Visiting journalists talk stereotypes & media

The South Asian Media Studies group at Florida State University, led by Dr. Steve McDowell, hosted a luncheon on August 27th featuring two Pakistani journalists, Ali Hussain and Tariq Mureed, as our guests.  The lunch was attended by Florida State students, staff, and faculty, and members of the community interested in South Asia.

McDowell, Mehnaz Gul, Ali Hussain, Tariq Mureed and Bob Gabordi

The two journalists are participating in a journalism exchange program with the Tallahassee Democrat, sponsored by the International Center for Journalists. Democrat Executive Editor, Bob Gabordi has hosted 18 foreign journalists so far  as part of this program.

Hussain recalled one their first encounters in the United States, “We were riding in an elevator and a lady said to me “you’re a foreigner, aren’t you?” and I said “Yes!”” The conversation went on to explore other issues in intercultural understanding and communication.

Ali Hussain

The two men spoke about the stereotypes held by people in the United States and in Pakistan, both socially and professionally.  The American media often paints a negative view of South Asia, something Tariq has written about, and the Pakistani media does the same for Americans. After posting photos from Wakulla Springs, their friends joked online about the positive images of their time in the U.S.

Tariq Mureed

In both countries, the negative views of the other country can often be attributed to the media. Hussain talked about how citizens in rural villages with limited media access are often more trusting of mainstream journalists’ negative accounts than of positive stories about his personal experience in the US. “If I speak in favor of the United States, I am criticized,” he said.

Brian Graves, Assistant Professor in the School of Communication asked the men if their alternative views on the United States damaged their credibility. Tariq explained his stories on the United States may be approved by his leadership at work, but criticized by other social and official groups.  The two journalists strongly believe in news integrity and continue to write about their experiences.

Despite tensions between the two countries, the journalists believe things are on the mend. “It’s great for my people,” said Hussain, “they need to see that the United States is not all like the Pentagon or White House… Americans are friendly, kind people.”

“We are very glad to have Mr. Hussain and Mr. Mureed visit FSU during their time at the Tallahassee Democrat.  It was a great opportunity to hear about the issues facing news media in Pakistan and the United States, as well as discuss different elements of US-Pakistan relations,” said McDowell.

More writing from Tariq and Ali can be found here.