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Pulitzer Prize Winner to Discuss Media Coverage of Muslims

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January 15, 2008 | by Wendy Leopold

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Andrea Elliott, a reporter for The New York Times, was on campus recently to discuss how Islam in covered in the United States.

- Brendan Cosgrove contributing.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Journalist Andrea Elliott – who last year was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles about Muslims in America -- will deliver the a lecture titled "Covering America's Muslims" Friday, Jan. 18, at 1 p.m. at Northwestern University.


Elliott, who covers Islam for The New York Times, will explain how she wrote the "An Imam in America" series and why The Times established a beat on Islam. Her free and public presentation will take place in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, Evanston campus.

Creating an Islam beat first occurred to Elliott in 2003 when, on a small assignment, she visited New York's "Little Pakistan" to write about the effects of a federal terrorism program on Muslims. The community's loss of thousands of residents, omnipresent boarded-up storefronts and a mosque that had lost half its worshippers convinced her that repercussions from 9/11 were hitting Muslims hard.

The Times began publishing Elliott's series about the religious leader Sheik Reda Shata and his Brooklyn mosque in 2006. According to Elliott, it was born out of frustration after realizing that unless she spent time in one neighborhood with one individual in one mosque, she wasn't going to get Muslims to talk with her.

With the creation of the Islam beat in 2005, Elliott aimed to bring attention to Muslims at a time when they were seldom heard from and, when they were, were selectively covered by the media with terrorism as the focus. Elliott's goal was to capture a more nuanced reality in her reporting. Her interest in Sheik Reda Shata was in his existence at the frontlines of the struggle between Muslim tradition and the pressures of American life.

She joined The Times as a general assignment reporter on the metropolitan desk in May 2003. Her stories included an investigation into the private policing system used by Macy's department stores, reports on the bereaved children of 9/11 and coverage of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

A former reporter at The Miami Herald, where among other subjects she covered Latin American politics, immigration trends and the recount of the 2000 presidential election, Elliott co-directed, wrote and produced a feature-length documentary, "It's All Good," about the subculture of inline skaters.

The popular, admission-free Crain Lecture Series is named in honor of magazine publishers Gertrude and G.D. Crain Jr. and presented by Northwestern's Medill School. For further information about the upcoming lecture, call (847) 491-5401 or visit <http://www.medill.northwestern.edu>.

Topics: Campus Life