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Document Type

MRP (paper)

Publication Date

Fall 9-2-2010

Abstract

This paper looks at the U.S. media coverage and treatment of Islam and Muslims in the post 9/11 landscape. This study tests the concepts of media bias and portrayals when applied to mentions of and presentations about Islam. The historical connotations and inherent factors for such bias and portrayals are then discussed. U.S. policy with Iran, U.S. involvement in South America and conflicts in Afghanistan involving the U.S.S.R and U.S. are used as examples to explain negative portrayals in the U.S. media. For this purpose, the web versions of the New York Times (as a major U.S. print medium) and CNN (as one of the leading U.S. broadcast news network) will be followed over the period of a week and its stories mentioning “Islam” or “Muslims” will be examined for a balanced or complete picture about Islam and Muslims. Journalistic ignorance and cultural proximity, editorial agenda-setting and selection and U.S. foreign policy and media control are examined against the coverage. The results indicate a general trend towards framing and communicating negative messages about Islam and Muslims with a significant degree of bias in presenting an unbalanced or distorted view of “Islam” and “Muslims” to the audiences. The negative messages include using stereotypical words such as “Radical”, “Violent” or “Extremists” to define “Islam” and “Muslims.” In addition, stories about violence, conflict and extremism are part of the agenda when discussing “Islam” and “Muslims.” Overall there are mostly negative images portrayed about “Islam” and “Muslims” within the context in which they are being discussed in the articles.