Perhaps more than other years, but 2017 to me — as the managing editor of Patheos Muslim where we cover news, issues, trends and stories pertaining to American Muslim (and global Muslim) communities – was the year where I couldn’t keep up. The year when I would wrap up work and home stuff, go to bed and in the morning, check my phone to see a flurry of news alerts of something happening via the Trump administration, or some breaking news in the world.
And, so much of it was pertaining to Muslims. As I would brush my teeth and ready the kids for school, I would think – do we need to cover this? Are any of my writers doing an op-ed or post on this? Is this worthy of comment? Do we need to dig deeper and do some reporting here?
From the travel ban (aka #MuslimBan) to increasing anti-Muslim attacks and hate crimes to repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (arguably not a “Muslim” issue, but one that Muslims as well as everyone were very much invested in) to continued bombings and attacks in Yemen, Manchester, London Bridge, Pakistan, Iraq and other places around the world – as writers, editors and journalists we were scrambling to keep up.
It’s not just a 24-hour news cycle we are living in, it’s a news cycle that changes and morphs minute by minute with screaming graphics, panels of “experts” offering all sorts of opinions, competing versions of stories and yes, “fake news” from sites that try to pass themselves off as being truthful news. And, if we weren’t overwhelmed by the coverage out there, we often fell prey to the slicing and dicing and arguments about pressing issues and stories over social media – a trial by fire of our own peers furiously typing behind computer screens and mobile devices.
This year, more than other years, I have come to feel that immediate, reactionary pieces, known as “hot takes,” are a tricky form of journalism to navigate. While I know that it’s near impossible to avoid writing such pieces, here at Patheos Muslim I’ve concluded that we cannot be a group of writers and journalists who live exclusively in a “hot take” world.
We never were to begin with, which sometimes has been to the detriment of our reach and channel traffic, but I stubbornly stand behind it. Some stories deserve an immediate reaction. Some are better served by further reflection, gathering additional facts, more introspection and a deeper dive into how multifaceted issues are playing out.
I broached this question to my writers at Patheos Muslim, a group of columnists, writers and bloggers who cover all aspects of Muslim issue and life with a unique mix of expertise and interests: What are your thoughts on the “hot take?” Are you a writer who likes to jump on a news story or issue right away? Are you someone who would rather not immediately write and publish a reactionary piece, but take time to digest and dive into deeper nuances?
Also, what are the stories that you refuse to write or comment about? What stores are you done covering? What about “condemnation articles and posts,” as in if some act of terror or violence occurs that seems to have been committed by a Muslim, do you feel compelled to condemn? Write a condemnation piece? Write a “thoughts and prayers” piece?
Does anyone read those pieces anymore? Haven’t we condemned enough? Shouldn’t our national and international audience know by now not to judge a billion plus Muslims by the actions of a handful of extremists? Hasn’t that approach, that type incendiary hyping by Trump supports landed us in an even deeper divide?
The writers at Patheos Muslim, with I as their editor, are having vigorous conversations about these questions, exploring where we stand as writers on the “hot take” type of article. Several of us have written articles responding to my questions, and it’s worth it to ponder these multiple approaches and thoughts as we wind down this year and gear up for the next.
What kind of coverage do you want to see from our writers? What are the stories and issues that are of interest to you as Muslims or as humans wanting to learn more about Muslims? How important is it to write and publish reactionary stories? Which stories or issues have been covered to death and need to be left alone?
I welcome your comments below and urge you to read our writers responses to the “hot takes” prompt on Patheos Muslim. We all have something to learn from each other.
Layla Abdullah-Polous on “NbA Muslims” – Play with Hot Takes, Gonna Get Burned
Dr. Ejaz Naqvi on “Ask a Muslim” – #RoyMoore Defeat in Alabama and My Hot Take
Kristina ElSayed on “My Islamic Life” – My Islamic Life on the Hot Take
Kristina ElSayed on “My Islamic Life” – My Islamic Life on the Hot Take, Part 2
Nadiah Mohajir on “Heartfelt” – When Breaking News Becomes a Hot Take
Kaya Gravitter on “Mostly Muslim” – Why I Stopped Publicly Condemning Terror Attacks as a Muslim
Pamela K. Taylor on “For the Love of God” – My Love Affair with the Hot Take