Professor Paul Baker of Lancaster University, in the U.K., carried out a unique research entitled, ‘The Representation of Islam and Muslims in the UK Press 1998-2009′. Along with three other academics, Professor Baker embarked on a rigorous study that involved the analysis of more than 200,000 articles, equating to over 147 million words of journalism. The use of “corpus linguistic methods” in creating an “acceptable bias” was amongst other objectives of their endeavour.
There were some interesting conclusions that were drawn from the research:
– For every positive article there were 21 negative articles.
– Words such as “extremist”, “radical”, “terrorist”, “fundamentalist” and “cleric” have become synonymous to Muslims in the media.
– The use of “moderate Muslim” is used in every positive article, and it appears that “moderate Muslims” are conveyed as good for not being “fully Muslim”.
– Many newspapers that publish anti-Muslim/Islamophobic bloggers/columnists exploit the PCC’s (now IPSO) defence of “individual robust opinions”.
– Muslims as a religious minority tend to be guilty by association of faith for the crimes of a minority of their coreligionists.
The political context behind the above findings were the 9/11 attacks, the subsequent War on Terror, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the 7/7 bombings in London. However, the demonisation of Islam and the biased coverage of Muslims have worsened since.
Whether it’s women’s dress code, halal meat, support for the Syrian revolution, charities, banning speakers from universities, human rights activists or aid workers, the criminalisation of Islam and Muslims in the British media has increased since Professor Baker’s research. The disproportionate coverage of crimes committed by Muslims in comparison to non-Muslims, and the constant reference to a Muslim’s religion when it has no relevance to a story is also another emerging pattern in recent times. »»» Huffington Post (U.K. ed.)
» 15 December 2014