Teacher Notes

Part A: Different opinions

While journalists use language and images to encourage the reader to see things in particular ways, readers also bring their own beliefs and perspectives to the viewing of a text.  While one person may find a news report biased and offensive, another may believe it to be balanced and informative.  A good technique for considering the fairness and reliability of a media article is to consider it from differing points of view.

Your task is to look at the following article and consider how it might be viewed and perceived by people with very different standpoints.

Carefully read the following article by Jeremy Pierce which appeared in the Courier Mail.

Muslim school plan draws Gold Coast problem

PROTESTERS have swarmed the Gold Coast City Council headquarters, and with blaring rock anthems vented anger over a planned Muslim school.

Almost 200 residents turned out for the demonstration, draped in Australian flags and shouting pro-Aussie slogans while Australian rock classics such as Down Under and Great Southern Land boomed across the parkland.  The Australian International Islamic College, planned for Carrara, has raised the ire of residents who fear it will lead to the local Muslim population withdrawing from the rest of the community.  A rally last week attracted about 400 people, while people turned out yesterday carrying placards bearing slogans such as "no Muslim school, hell no" and "integration, not segregation".

Resident's spokesman Tony Doherty said Muslim schools did not encourage multiculturalism.

"It's segregation, not integration," he said.

"Since we have started protesting against this our churches have been covered in hate-filled graffiti."

He denied it was hypocritical to oppose Muslim and not Christian schools.

"Catholics aren't a different culture," he said. "They are the same as us."

Some residents say they are opposed to the school more because of parking issues rather than religious grounds.

Mayor Ron Clarke has publicly said he would support the school as long as it satisfies the council's planning criteria.

The council will not make any decision on the future of the school until next year.  If approved, the school is unlikely to open until at least the middle of next year.

Copyright Fairfax Limited, The Courier Mail, Muslim school plan draws Gold Coast protest, 1/12/2008

Your Turn

Now it's your turn to reflect on this article from three different points of view; a local Muslim, a protester, the Mayor.  Think about what each person's perspective might be in regard to the following questions:
  • Is this article newsworthy?  Why or why not?
  • Is it fair and balanced?  Why or why not?
  • Does it represent groups fairly?  How do you know?

  1. Imagine you are a local Muslim and parent.  What might you think about this article?
  2. Imagine you are a local resident who attended the protest.  What might you think about this article?
  3. Imagine you are the local Mayor.  What might you think about this article?
  4. Has looking at this article from different standpoints changed your own opinion or understanding of the issues discussed in this article?  Explain.