Police vehicle accidents and the impact such crashes have had on communities across New York State are the focus of a new data journalism project involving Newhouse School students working in partnership with reporters from the USA Today Network and Central Current….
Newhouse School Assistant Professor Named 2023-25 Lender Center Faculty Fellow
Nausheen Husain, whose work examines media coverage of Muslim people and communities and the impact of that coverage, has been selected as the 2023-25 Lender Center for Social Justice Faculty Fellow.
Husain is an assistant professor of magazine, news and digital journalism in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she teaches data and documents journalism. Before joining the University in 2021, she did data reporting and wrote for the Chicago Tribune on state surveillance of Muslim Americans, carceral units targeting Muslims, the 2017 “Muslim Ban,” refugee communities and the government’s historical disinvestment in Chicago’s communities of color. She also helped build back-end infrastructure for election reporting and contributed to visual journalism projects.
Marcelle Haddix, associate provost for strategic initiatives, whose office oversees the Lender Center for Social Justice, says determining how news coverage can both inadvertently and knowingly impact everyday life as well as perspectives about specific individuals and communities “is an engaging and significant investigation. We look forward to Professor Husain’s findings and the opportunities she presents to engage our students regarding how journalism and journalists may be exacerbating complex community and individual situations.”
Student Fellow Selection
Each year, several students are selected as Lender Center student fellows to work with the faculty fellow for the two years of their project. Students from all academic disciplines who are passionate about finding solutions to complex problems are invited to apply. More information about the application process and deadlines will be announced early this fall.
Q&A with Husain
We recently sat down with Husain to discuss her project, “The Stories We Told Ourselves: The American ‘War on Terror.’”
01What prompted this research interest?
As a reporter in Chicago, I read about a young Muslim man targeted in an FBI sting. It was a unique case. I spent a lot of time unintentionally analyzing the coverage of it—the words used, how the case was framed in headlines and what information appeared where in the article. Much of the coverage was executed from the perspective of law enforcement. Reading about this case for years directly led me to the research I plan to organize for this project. I think about this case now when I’m teaching journalism students about the choices they make when they report on something.
With my collaborator Nicole Nguyen at the University of Illinois Chicago, I intend to look at news coverage during the American war on terror, including the infrastructure of prosecutions, targets, policies and events. I hope we can create a small journalism community for researchers and reporters who think about these things as well.
02What issues will you examine?
We will look at how American media succeeded and failed at informing the public about the domestic war on terror infrastructure that started pre-9/11 and continues today. The war on terror is often framed as something that is over, but it’s not. Its infrastructure remains intact, and its reach continues to expand. An expanding definition of international and domestic terrorism should mean an increase in critical news coverage, but shrinking newsrooms and no significant change in how Americans understand the construction of terrorism make that unlikely to happen.
We’ll examine past and present American war on terror-related government policies and programs, surveillance and security operations around Muslim and Arab neighborhoods, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Countering Violent Extremism grants.
We’ll also look at the prison bureau’s communication management units, FBI stings targeting young Muslim men, inconsistent application of domestic terrorism charges to environmental protestors and the idea of “conviction capitalism”—how obtaining convictions can generate funding for law enforcement structures. Importantly, we want to look at the resistance movements to each of these areas and understand how young folks who grew up in this era have dealt with these infrastructure components.
03What activities do you plan?
Currently, a team of students is researching news coverage of one defendant; that work will fold into the project and be completed this fall. In the spring, I’ll teach the course “News and the War on Terror” for the Lender Center student fellows and other students.
We will also analyze news coverage of the war on terror infrastructure from the past 20 years and talk to journalists who were and are in the newsrooms producing these stories. We want to better understand the circumstances in the newsroom that lead to both critical and uncritical journalism.
We hope to work with organizations, some of which are located in Central New York, which are already addressing these issues. I hope that much of this work can live in public-facing news outlets or a blog, and eventually be published in a book.
04What contexts guide your thinking?
Many people have shaped the environment for my thinking on this issue. I’m particularly indebted to my own Isma’ili Muslim community, to several journalists and writers, and to many scholars who have guided my education and politics, including Mona Bhan of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
These are questions we’re considering:
- Which communities have been ignored or feared by those running American newsrooms in post-9/11 years?
- How did mainstream media frame domestic war on terror policies and the communities where they were used?
- What was and is the relationship between American investigative journalism and the war on terror?
- How has the relationship between news media and Muslim communities been shaped by this coverage?