According to a new report from the Washington Post, “Researchers have found again and again that coverage of Muslims in the American and global media is predominantly negative…. U.S. newspapers associate Muslims with far more negativity than terrorism or extremism would explain. Further, articles about Muslims that have nothing to do with terrorism are substantially more negative than articles about Catholics, Jews or Hindus.”
More findings from researchers Erik Bleich and A. Maurits van der Veen:
— We find that articles mentioning Muslims are far more likely to be negative than those in any other category. Of all stories mentioning Muslims or Islam, 78 percent are negative, compared with only 40 percent of those about Catholics, 46 percent about Jews and 49 percent about Hindus. Muslims are clearly distinctive as the only group associated with overwhelmingly negative coverage.
— We find that articles that contain terrorism and extremism words are more negative than articles that do not. But even so, articles about Muslims or Islam that don’t mention terrorism or extremism are still very negative. In fact, 69 percent of non-terrorism-related articles mentioning Muslims are negative, only a slight decline compared with all Muslim articles.
— Articles about Muslims that mention a foreign location are also associated with negative coverage… 54 percent are negative, compared with only 37 percent of articles about Catholics, 36 percent of articles about Jews and only 29 percent of articles about Hindus under similar conditions.
— Not all stories about Muslims are negative, of course. As reported in October (see New Studies on Mainstream Media’s Coverage of Islam), articles that touch on faith and devotion are generally positive. But overall, newspaper reporting about Muslims in American newspapers is undeniably and substantially negative — more than is true for newspaper stories in general, or reporting about other religious groups.