Edina Lekovic, the Communications Director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, says the hardest part of her job is convincing the media to run non-crisis stories about Muslims. Yusra interviews her to figure out what drives the woman we see on TV.
Yusra: You work as the communications director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles—and you’ve called yourself a translator between Muslims and mainstream journalists. What’s the hardest part of that job?
Edina Lekovic: The hardest part of my job is pitching non-crisis stories about Muslims to reporters and producers in mainstream media outlets. There’s very little room on the media radar for a story about Muslims that isn’t about us being a perpetrator, a victim, or condemner of evil actions. I spend a little time every day developing unique story ideas about the daily reality of Muslim American life and those Muslim American pioneers all over the country who are shaping their communities and their country—but get little attention in the process. It’s an uphill battle to get these kinds of stories told, and it’ll only happen if we keep pushing and if more Muslims enter the journalism field so they can take part in telling stories and deciding which stories get shared with broader audiences. We have to take ownership of changing our image to the world.
Yusra: Is the misrepresentation of Islam and Muslims in the press getting better?
EL: That’s a tough question. I think the news about Muslims and Islam has grown a lot in terms of numbers, but it’s still mostly bad news. By and large, Muslim spokespersons like myself mostly get called to respond to bad news. That’s when we get the most attention and when we’re deemed the most “relevant.” The bad news about that is that it associates even mainstream Muslims like me with “bad news Muslims,” because that the only time they see a Muslim speaking on the news.