As most things in life, the age of information comes with its positives and negatives. The negative aspect is an information overload, constantly combined with a sophisticated spin which creates a great deal of confusion about the world around us.
If you are a person who wants to de-fog the confusion created by the corporate media, Confessions of a Muslim Journalist: My life in the mainstream and alternative media, by Roshan Muhammad Salih is an absolute must read.
The author of the book who spent 18 years in journalism and worked for news organizations as diverse as ITV, Channel 4, Discovery Channel, Al Jazeera, Islam Channel and Press TV, demystifies the nitty-gritty aspects of modern journalism.
The book is a very entertaining piece superbly blended with in-depth and broad minded evaluation of many contemporary events which the author experienced and witnessed first-hand. It is a great go to resource for Muslim identity issues in Britain, grassroots Islamic activism, the Arab Spring and technicalities of journalism.
The first chapter of the book immediately lets the reader know that the author does not mince words and he often does so with a fabulous humor.
One of the most outstanding features of the book is how precisely it qualifies the media’s place in international politics.
Roshan correctly points out that “Journalistic objectivity is shoved down the throats of every journalism student in this country….the only problem is that in reality … it doesn’t really exist…. The BBC would claim to, and many of its journalists probably believe it does. But it doesn’t. Here’s why: every journalistic institution exists in a context. That context may be the country that it comes from which means that its journalists have a certain cultural and philosophical mindset; but usually the overriding context that journalists exist in is who finances their outlet. So let’s take some of the companies that I’ve worked at – The Maidenhead Advertiser could never be “objective” about the property companies which financed it; Al Jazeera could never be objective about Qatar; Islam Channel could never be objective about Saudi Arabia; and Press TV could never be objective about Iran. And if they did that would have their funding cut!” Therefore, the author accurately concludes that all prominent media is propaganda and the only difference between them is the sophistication of that propaganda.
The entire book is a blunt revelation of reality, whether that reality concerns Iraqis cheering on the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, whom the author calls out as traitors or corporate journalists.
The author’s sobering depiction of the corporate Western journalism is related to his action packed work in Libya during NATO’s destruction of that country. Roshan states that “their attitude irked me somewhat because I have no time for Western superiority complexes. These are the same institutions which regularly beat the drums for war against the Muslim world, often dressing military intervention up in the rhetoric of human rights, freedom and democracy. These are the journalists who have an intrinsic belief in the superiority of Western civilization and who spread Islamophobia and racism wherever they go. They aren’t better than us in any way. And frankly they can f*** off.”
Describing the role of the Qatari government channel, Al Jazeera, during the NATO’s invasion of Libya, Roshan factually exposes the networks heinous agenda, by pointing out that in Libya, “Al Jazeera, of course, was given preferential treatment by the rebels. They were given the best access and didn’t pay for anything, neither accommodation nor food. They were not there as independent journalists – they were there as part of the war effort. And the same can be said of other Arab networks like the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya.”
Another important factor in the book is that it destroys the primitive Sunni vs Shia narrative peddled by the corporate media which defines Sunni Muslims as being opposed to Islamic Iran. The author of the book, who strongly identifies himself as a Sunni Muslim, clearly breaks the divide and conquer narrative of the corporate media.
Describing his transition from Islam Channel to PressTV, Roshan states the following; “Funded by the Iranian government, it would not be short of resources and I was offered the position of Head of News in London. A few friends advised me not to join Press TV because it would be “a propaganda channel” but the management reassured me that this would not be the case. And the fact was that I didn’t mind too much anyway because I agreed with the vast majority of Iranian propaganda!” Further on, when discussing the foreign instigated riots in Tehran after the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, Roshan writes that “..I loudly proclaimed that I would have resigned had the “CIA regime change color revolution” in Iran succeeded. The only reason I was working for Press TV was because I believed in its Islamic, anti-imperialist values, and if another regime replaced the current one why would I stick around? And I maintain this stance to this day.”
The book’s brilliant feature lies in the fact that it is a very realistic assessment of many contemporary events many of which Roshan covered first hand. Confessions of a Muslim Journalist looks at diverse angles of many important issues. Simply put, the book is a must read in order to have a non-dogmatic understanding of many contemporary issues, especially media’s role in global politics. Our only advice to the author is to do his best to turn the book into a movie; it would be a huge morale boost for people with the consciousness of social justice.