Skip to main content

Covering Islam in America

About This Course

"Islam hates us," Donald Trump told CNN. Ted Cruz wants to patrol Muslim neighborhoods. Marco Rubio sees a "clash of civilizations."

Islam was part of the 2016 presidential election campaign. And it's a local story for reporters from Portland, ME to Portland, OR and Ann Arbor to Austin

Fifteen years after the 9/11 tragedies, many American journalists find themselves telling a story about Islam at home as well as far away. But how do you bridge cultural gaps to accurately put news about Islam and Muslim communities into context?

This course is designed to give you a broad explanation of the religious, social, political and geographical facts about Islam today. It provides the essential information you need to humanize, analyze and put news about Islam and Muslim communities into context.

We created "Covering Islam in America" as a tool for journalists who want to be accurate in educating their audience about the religion and culture of Islam, Muslim communities in the U.S., and the distinctions between Islam as a political movement and the radical philosophies tha tinspire militant Islamists. This course, funded by the Social Science Research Council, gives journalists the language and knowledge they need to convey this information to their auidence. It is an extension of the e-book Islam for Journalists, also funded by the SSRC and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, available for free download from Reynolds Institute "newsbook" catalogue at the University of Missouri.

Together with the Social Science Research COuncil and Washington State University, we are committed to strengthening accurate reporting and to enhancing the ability of the media to fairly report on a range of pressing issues. We believe there is a need to better understand the complexities of Muslim societies and this course is a vital resource toward that end.

The values underpinning the course are truth, accuracy, independence, fairness, minimizing harm and context — the core journalistic values on which we build all our teaching here at Poynter.

What Will I Learn?

  • Essential facts about Islam and Muslims
  • Background information about the growth of Islam in the U.S. and around the world
  • Reporting strategies to give your stories greater context
  • How to find additional resources to improve your coverage

Who Should Take This Course?

Journalists who want to improve their understanding of Islam and become more effective in their coverage.

Course Instructors

Lawrence Pintak

Lawrence Pintak

Lawrence Pintak is a veteran journalist who has reported form the Middle East and broader Muslim world for more than 30 years and now writes and lectures on America's relationship with the Muslim world and the role of the media in shaping international relations. He was the founding dean of The Edard R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University (2009-2016) and is currently a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at at the Atlantic Council, and writes on Islam and American politics for

Stephen Franklin

Stephen Franklin

Stephen Franklin is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune with extensive experience in the Middle East. He has also trained journalists in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and designed an online course about labor coverage for Arab journalists for the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). He is a former U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Turkey. He is the editor and project manager for the Islam on Main Street effort at the College of Commuication at Washington State University.


Social Science Research Council (SSRC)

Social Science Research Council (SSRC)

This course is funded by the Social Science Research Council as part of an initiative to support public engagement by academic experts on Islamic traditions and Muslim societies, made possible through a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is an independent nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of social science research and scholarship. Founded in New York City in 1923 as the world’s first national coordinating body of the social sciences, it is today an international resource for interdisciplinary, innovative public social science.

Training Partner

Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Washington State University

The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University is the only program in the Northwest that offers sequences in all six communication fields: advertising, broadcasting, communication, communication studies, journalism, and public relations. Named for its most illustrious alumnus, the college is noted for combining professional skill building and theory and is one of only a few programs in the nation that airs a daily, student-produced television newscast. Washington State University conducts transformational research and provides world-class education to more than 26,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Founded in 1890 in Pullman, it is Washington’s original land-grant university.

This $30 course is FREE thanks to funding support from the Social Science Research Council.

Frequently Asked Questions

What web browser should I use?

The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.