Journalist Oz Katerji: ‘Newsrooms need to be more diverse’

Journalist Oz Katerji: ‘Newsrooms need to be more diverse’

FOR A WHILE, I used to work in newsrooms. A weekly alternative paper in Europe from 2002-2004, then a Seattle daily from 2004-2005. I remember walking away from them for many reasons, but there was definitely a feeling that I had way back then that is resonant in something I found today online. This, from Yahoo News:

The BBC has issued an apology after Stacey Dooley[ (who has been criticised in the past for her perceived lack of knowledge or understanding while presenting various documentaries*)] referred to a Muslim prayer gesture as an “Isis salute” in a documentary  broadcast last night (Monday 5 August)… The offending scene, which showed Dooley using the term “Isis salute” to describe women raising their fingers in the air, was cut from the programme after being used in the documentary..

..However, the raised index finger is a symbol of Tawhid, meaning “the unity and uniqueness of God as creator and sustainer of the Universe”. The gesture is a common part of Islamic prayer, and has been used by a number of Muslim football players during goal celebrations.

TellMamaUK, a social media watchdog for anti-Muslim incidents, condemned the moment and tweeted: “To reduce such a fundamental and important concept to a mere ‘Isis salute’ is grossly wrong, ignorant and damaging.”

Award-winning BBC journalist Anisa Subedar tweeted: “Does Stacey Dooley know us Muslims raise it every time we pray (that’s five times a day) to remind us of the oneness of God?

“This is what happens when you pass over real journalists to cover these kinds of stories — those that require cultural sensitivity and compassion.

“What happened here is insulting and offensive to Muslims and journalists.”

Journalist Oz Katerji tweeted the BBC’s response after he submitted a complaint, and linked the mistake to a lack of diversity in newsrooms.

“While I am disappointed Stacey herself has not apologised, I am satisfied with the BBC response and will draw a line under this here,” he said.

“I have no doubt that this retraction was prompted not by me, but by dozens of female Muslim BBC journalists that were also offended and expressed their feelings about it. I can’t stress this enough, newsrooms need to be diverse, and if you hire more diverse staff, this won’t happen.