How is Islam represented on the BBC? And in the New York Times

With respect to the BBC:

What the study showed is that the BBC news tends to reproduce dominant discourses about Islam, partly as a result of news-gathering and production processes. For example, there has been significant criticism of its use of extreme news sources, such as Anjem Choudary, on its flagship news programme Newsnight. However, due to its remit as a PSB, it is required to listen to audiences, and this is sometimes evident in its news reporting – where it has more recently included a wider range of Muslims voices and has been more careful in its use of language.

We were able to demonstrate that, when you step outside the news format, with its extensive focus on conflict and terrorism, there is evidence of more diversity. Sometimes, the BBC makes a point of including Muslims in programming unrelated to Islam such as Eastenders and The British Bake Off. Aaqil Ahmed has continued to commission series that challenge dominant tropes about Islam; Make me a Muslim (2014), Welcome to the Mosque (2015) and Britain’s Muslims Soldiers (2016).

But there is a long way to go. News images of Islam continue to dominate media coverage, and are more likely to be reproduced than the niche programming described here. The last BBC Annual Report (2015) showed a reduction in hours dedicated to religious broadcasting; given that 5% of references to religion came from within this despite only accounting for 1% of airtime, it clearly remains a significant resource for representations of religion.

Some commentators have suggested that, due to media fragmentation which has seen the BBC’s share of the audience drop in recent years, media representation no longer matters, particularly as younger people watch less and less television and consume distinct, personalised services. But the BBC has an influence beyond its television broadcasting and immediate audience. As a PSB, it has a responsibility to reflect national culture(s) and minority interests. And in an era of increased commercialisation and privatisation, it does this better than most providers.

Source: How is Islam represented on the BBC? | openDemocracy

By way of comparisons, another study looked  at the New York Times:

The New York Times portrays Islam and Muslims more negatively than cancer, cocaine and alcohol, according to a report that studied the newspaper’s headlines.

“Since 9/11, many media outlets began profiteering from the anti-Muslim climate. Though you could probably trace a similar trend back to the Iranian Revolution,” said Steven Zhou, head of Investigations and Civic Engagement and co-author of the study ‘Are Muslims Collectively Responsible? A Sentiment Analysis of the New York Times.’

“We talk a lot about media and Islamophobia, but nobody has done the math. So, we thought it is long overdue to have a quantitative investigation of an agenda-setting newspaper,” Zhou told the Middle East U.S. Policy watchdog Mondoweiss Friday.

The study, which was conducted by Toronto-based 416 Labs, looked at New York Times headlines from the period 1990-2014. Researchers found that Islam and Muslims were “consistently associated with negative terms,” at least 57 percent of the time, says the study. Only 8 percent of news headlines about Islam/Muslims was positive.

The most frequent terms associated with Islam/Muslims include “Rebels” and “Militant.” None of the 25 most frequently occurring terms were positive.

Compared to all the other benchmarked terms (such as Republican, Democrat, Cancer, Cocaine, Christianity and Alcohol), Islam/Muslims had the highest incidents of negative terms throughout the 25-year period by a long shot. The following were cocaine and cancer, with 47 and 34 percent of their coverage associated with negative terminology.

“When we went into it we didn’t think it would be surprising if Islam was one of the most negatively portrayed topics in the NYT,” says co-author Usaid Siddiqui. “What did really surprise us was that compared with something as inherently negative as cancer, Islam still tends to be more negative.”

The New York Times Presents Islam More Negatively than Cancer and Cocaine