Is the Media Profession to Blame for the Quran-Burning Hype?

Is the media profession to blame for the controversy surrounding a preacher’s plan to burn Qurans in Florida? Orlando Sentinel‘s Mike Thomas thinks so.
“The Rev. Terry Jones was a sad-sack preacher, lucky to draw 50 people to his steel-shed house of prayer, when the words ‘burn’ and ‘Quran’ had an unfortunate collision in his limited brain,” wrote Thomas in his latest column.

He goes on to write, but once Jones decided to put the idea together “It was like the three strawberries coming into alignment on a million-dollar slot machine. The New York Times and The Associated Press whipped out their notepads. The networks and cable stations broke out the indignant anchors.”

If the media hadn’t covered the issue, only the 30 or so followers of Jones would have attended the Quran burning, according to Thomas. Now, instead of some “sad little man” burning books, it’s a national controversy leading to comments from President Barack Obama and an Interpol warning of violent attacks if the torch-fest goes down.

The truth is, Thomas is probably right. There’s less of a chance Jones would have ever made it on CNN if the media hadn’t bit at the issue. However, Jones would likely have put it up on Youtube and shown the burning to the world. What would have changed? There’s one clip with 40,000 plus views of a Quran burning. Would a small group of Quran burners attract even more views? It’s certainly possible and it still would have upset the Muslim community just as much.

At least now, pressure’s placed on Jones to not go through with the crazy idea. It’s easy to blame the messenger, but at a time when the messenger can be sidestepped via Youtube, at least the messenger has given a warning of what’s to come.

Photo by pcorreia