MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                   1                Muslims in the Media: Room for Moderation?  ...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                         2Introduction       The...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                           3“us” versus “them” t...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                            4nuances of how nega...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                             5understands that “...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                           6dynamic, Karim belie...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                           7the 9/11 attacks. Th...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                          8suggest improvements ...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                             9the analysis to th...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                         10any others I found, d...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                        11terrorism. This study ...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                         12likely to appear in l...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                            13Muslims by choosin...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                                        14      ...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                            15information will a...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                         16 Indicator:          ...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                         17where the coders for ...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                           18        Although I’...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                                            19  ...
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION?                                                      20                        ...
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Muslims in the Media: Room for Moderation?


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This is a final paper for a George Washington University course I took in 2011. It is composed of a research design for a content analysis project looking at how Muslims have been portrayed in American media over time. The actual research was not carried out, but the paper provides a roadmap for how one might investigate this issue.

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Muslims in the Media: Room for Moderation?

  1. 1. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 1 Muslims in the Media: Room for Moderation? Heather Risley George Washington University
  2. 2. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 2Introduction The September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States were an obvious turning point inMuslim-American relations. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, it was widely speculatedin the media that the perpetrators of the attacks were Muslims. The American public seemedcaught between an emotional backlash against the Muslim community and a call for tolerance.The West, in general, has always had a tenuous relationship not only with the politics of Muslimnations but with the Islamic culture more broadly. For many years, stereotypes have persisted inthe West that the Islamic culture is backward, Muslims are prone toward violence, and at theirmost extreme, that Islam promotes terrorism. Edward Said, a well-known critic of Westernportrayals of Islam, wrote in 1980 that “Malicious generalizations about Islam have become thelast acceptable form of denigration of foreign culture in the West; what is said about the Muslimmind, or character, or religions, or culture as a whole cannot now be said in mainstreamdiscussion about Africans, Jews, other Orientals, or Asians” (1981, p. xii). Whether they have chosen it or not, Americans now feel that what happens in Muslimcountries has a greater significance on their own lives. More American soldiers have completedmultiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, a high number of American humanitarian workers andjournalists are engaged in the multiple conflicts happening across the Middle East and NorthAfrica, politicians are facing tough choices over which side to support in sticky conflicts, andaverage Americans are feeling the economic effects of these conflicts at the gas pump while stillfearing the very real risk of global terrorism. As a result of this increased engagement with the Muslim world, a question arises as towhether or not the media’s representation of Muslims has changed from a simplistic analysis of
  3. 3. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 3“us” versus “them” to a more sophisticated understanding of the diversity within Islamic culture.Muslims are a group often misunderstood by Americans. More than other groups, it has beendifficult for many Americans to see similarities between themselves and Muslims. Breakingthrough these cultural barriers has been a long-time challenge. If indeed media coverage of Muslims and Islamic culture has become richer, it wouldhave positive implications across American society. Featuring more Muslims who holdmoderate views or who live religious and nonviolent lives would go a long way in breakingdown lingering stereotypes and fostering cross-cultural understanding. Disassociating violentpolitical groups with the true Islamic religion is important not only for promoting tolerance, butalso for policymakers who might apply similar policy prescriptions to all Islam-oriented groups.Literature Review Research conducted on the media’s representation of Islam and Muslims is vast anddiverse. Efforts have been made to analyze how Muslims are depicted in both print media, aswell as film, editorial cartoons, and television. A significant amount of work has been doneanalyzing coverage during the 1980s when the Arab-Israeli conflict was dominating the news.Since September 11, 2001, more studies have been done which attempt to describe how Islamand Muslims continue to be portrayed negatively, particularly in the American media, but mostof the analysis is purely descriptive. All the research I have read assumes the negative portrayalof Islam overall, but authors have taken different approaches to explain exactly how negativestereotypes are played out in different media sources. In my search, I could not find any studiesthat attempted to look for the presence of positive stereotypes. In looking at negativestereotypes, some authors have conducted a narrative analysis of what role Muslims play inAmerican news articles while others have taken a semiotic approach to try to describe the
  4. 4. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 4nuances of how negative depictions of Islam seep through the media. While the theoreticalanalysis is rich, relatively few quantitative studies have been done to test these assumptions. Ofthe relevant studies that I found, most focus on a very specific aspect of the “negative depictionof Islam” narrative, such as Muslim women as repressed victims, Arab terrorists versus Israelivictims, Muslims as thieves, Muslims as backward and ill-educated. But still none have lookedat the reverse. In this literature review, I will present some of the most important qualitativeresearch to give more context for my own study and then highlight several quantitative studieswhose findings and methodologies I can build upon.Qualitative Research Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) and Covering Islam (1981) provide the foundationalliterature in the discussion of Western understandings of Islam. Perhaps more than any otherauthor, Said makes the strongest case for how pervasive negative Muslim caricatures are inWestern media and the significance this has on the future of Western-Arab relations. Saidprovides a detailed discussion of not only how Western media has portrayed Islam and Muslimsnegatively in different contexts, but also proposes various theories of why this is so. Said posits“The media say what they wish about Islam because they can…little else is covered becauseanything falling outside the consensus definition of what is important is considered irrelevant toUnited States interests and to the media’s definition of a good story” (1981, p. 150). For Said, theubiquity of negative Muslim stereotypes is based in Western political interests and the mediastructure, which suggests that any major progress toward realistic and just coverage of Muslimswill require systemic shifts. Despite the challenge, Said does mention models of reporting that break down theboundaries imposed by Western power structures. The younger generation, he believes, better
  5. 5. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 5understands that “Human experience, and not limiting labels like ‘the Islamic mind’ or ‘theIslamic personality,’ defines the unit of attention. Moreover, they are genuinely interested inexchange, and have made it a matter of conscious choice to overstep the rigid lines of hostilityput down between peoples by governments” (p. 160). The theory that human experience canchange perspectives plays a major role in my own study. The trauma of 9/11 in the United Stateshas arguably forced Islam into political discussions on a higher level than ever before. Theimportance of the issue has certainly increased human engagement with Muslims on differentlevels, which if the theory holds, would bring about alternative perspectives. Said also addresses the inherent difficulty of defining “Islam” as a singular concept. Inreality, Islam is a loaded term that isn’t able to convey significant meaning on its own. AlthoughIslam is a religion, it is often used to describe a broader culture and more commonly, a brand ofpolitics. The strong influence of interpretation is what makes a coherent conversation on mediacoverage of Islam quite difficult. Although researchers have attempted to build on work done inthe past, the definitions and interpretations used for various terms are often inconsistent. This isnot to say that terms like Islam and Muslim hold no meaning at all. It is only to underscore theimportance of clearly defining how concepts are interpreted in a way that can be related tosimilar concepts discussed in the past. Karim supports Said’s explanations for why the media perpetuates negative Muslimstereotypes. Karim (2002) focuses specifically on how terrorists and violent groups aredescribed. Like Said, Karim believes the media recycles their governments’ definitions ofterrorists and violent groups by arguing that “Although mainstream journalists in technologicalsocieties do challenge the day-to-day functioning of incumbent governments, they rarely bringinto question the fundamental structures of thought or of power” (p. 105). Because of this
  6. 6. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 6dynamic, Karim believes journalists failed to produce a nuanced and contextual understanding ofIslam after 9/11. He cites examples of the “eagerness” to apply Islamic characterizations toterrorist groups where other violent groups with known Christian influences were not describedin a religious context. Although Karim and Said attempt to provide explanations of how and why media coversthe Islam the way it does, Hafez (2000) suggests that the lack of a comprehensive theory offoreign reporting severely limits our knowledge of the processes underlying Western mediacoverage of the Middle East and Islam. He rejects the causal assumption that Western mediagenerally follows the norms of the state as too simplistic. Instead, his study attempts to build atheoretical framework for foreign reporting which he believes helps to explain why journalistsmight cover Islam the way they do. In doing so, Hafez relates a large number of widelyrecognized communication theories into a singular framework that specifically relates to analysisof international reporting. Overall, the framework is a more structured mechanism than eitherSaid or Karim have provided under which one could analyze news. In Hafez’s discussion, he makes several important assumptions on how news isgenerated. First, journalists are both influenced by and influence the politico-economicenvironment. Additionally, there is pressure from the general public about the kind ofinformation they want to consume. It has been shown that the public cares more about foreignpolicy when it is connected to domestic concerns, and often stories are presented in that context.Both of these assumptions explain the limits under which journalists often work. Hafez thendraws the conclusion that journalists have to make a conscious choice of whether they will be“agents of international and intranational conflict or agents of transcultural communications” (p.38). The role that journalists see themselves playing could be particularly salient directly after
  7. 7. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 7the 9/11 attacks. That period certainly elicited emotionally charged reactions, but it alsoproduced a number of reflective articles about how America will be different going forward. Anumber of authors immediately recognized the implications that racist stereotypes in the mediacould have on the Muslim American community. There was a louder call for compassion andtolerance toward Muslims that implied a need for “agents of transcultural communications.” Sofar, no study I have found explores whether this call for tolerance had enough staying-power toaffect alternative narratives in media coverage since 9/11. A cursory overview of the studiesproduced would lead one to believe it has not. An analysis of polls conducted in the United States since 9/11 also suggest that whetheror not media narratives have changed, public opinion still remains largely cautious of a skepticalof Islam (Panagopoulos, 2006). Soon after 9/11, more polling organizations started regularlycollecting public opinion data on attitudes toward Islam and the Muslim community. In acomprehensive analysis of the data, Panagopoulos concluded that Americans were moreinformed about, tolerant of, and sensitive to Muslims and the religion of Islam directly after the9/11 attacks. As people became removed from the events, the data indicate that Americansappear less informed about and more cautious toward Arab and Muslim Americans. Even moreconcerning, Panagopoulos concludes that “even as Americans do not appear to possess a firmgrasp on the basic elements of the Islamic faith, these data suggest the public is, at best, skepticalabout how the Islamic faith’s teachings relate to tolerance and respect for other viewpoints.Moreover, anxiety over Islamic fundamentalism appears to be on the mount” (p. 611). Giventhis kind of data, it is certainly evident that any possible attempts in the media to associateMuslims with positive frames in the news have not moved public opinion. Any findings that
  8. 8. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 8suggest improvements in media coverage would be particularly interesting in this kind ofdomestic climate.Quantitative Research Quantitative studies that explore media coverage of Islam are relatively few and narrowin scope. Of course, large-scale studies of highly complex subjects like Islam are time consumingand expensive, but certainly more work in this area is needed to empirically test the wealth ofqualitative analysis that already exists. Although not a perfect delineation, a number of studieshave sought to build upon one another over time. As discussed above, most studies do notnecessarily define terms in exactly the same way, and different methods are often used.Comparative analysis between studies is not always appropriate, but certainly broad trends canbe drawn. Though most studies focus on the period before 1948, when the state of Israel wascreated, Mousa (1984) conducted a quantitative analysis of media coverage of Arabs in The NewYork Times between 1917 and 1947. Using “theme” as his unit of analysis, rather than the morecommonly used newspaper article, the overall results were largely negative. Also, Mousaconcluded that limited information and imbalanced press coverage contributed to misconceptionsabout the Arabs prior to 1948, which helped to create stereotypes that distortedthe Arab image as a whole. In many ways, Mousa laid the groundwork for quantitative analysisin this area and there have been numerous efforts to build on his work. Until 1995, most quantitative studies focused on Arabs. Al-Zahrani (1988) was one offew systematic studies focusing on Muslims which concluded that coverage was mostly negativeand centered on crisis events. The study covered the years between 1979 and 1987 by using bothABC News and The New York Times. A study was designed to build on this work by updating
  9. 9. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 9the analysis to the period between 1988 and 1992 (Sheikh, Price, Oshagan, 1995). Two theoriesare posited as explanations for why media coverage of Islam and Muslims is overwhelminglynegative: The authors claim that reporters are reporting on what they don’t know well and areinfluenced by the hard news cycle. The authors tested a number of different assumptions related to foreign affairs coverage.They hypothesized that press coverage would be foreign affairs related (specifically MiddleEast), tied to crisis events, refer to a Muslim individual or group in a way that implied it appliedto all Muslims, have an overall negative tone (“fundamentalism,” “radical,” “terrorist,”“militant,”), and in communities with larger Muslim populations, coverage would be morepositive in tone (i.e. Detroit). To determine their sample, they filtered articles that used rootwords “Muslim-”, “Islam-”, and “Moslem-”, in the lead paragraphs to ensure that the entire storywould be relevant. They then drew a sample of 400 stories overall by using probability samplingand pure random sampling which fit their goal of 25 issues per year, generally accepted to be asufficient sample size (Stempel, 1952). To operationalize variables such as use of stereotypesand tone, specific information about each article was recorded. The study tracked location; storycontext (using nine categories: Islamic world politics, world politics, crisis events, religion, warand conflict, business and economics, disasters and accidents, general information, and other);specificity of reference to Muslims: individual, aggregate, nation, and general; tone of coverage:positive, negative or neutral; and descriptive references employed: selection of specific terms.Other information about the articles was noted as well, such as the type of story, the byline, andwhether the story described Muslims in terms of “in a state of conflict” or “cooperation.” As theauthors expect, the results indicated that the media focused largely on events, groups orindividuals from the Middle East in response to crises, war and conflict. This study, more than
  10. 10. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 10any others I found, did not start out looking for only negative frames. Although they found thatoverall coverage was more negative, it would be interesting to see whether the existence ofpositive frames (such as their definition of “cooperation”) has increased. Oumais (2001) further extends the timeline of analysis by assessing media coverage ofArabs/Muslims and Israelis largely in the context of the Arab-Israeli peace process. Oumaisused quantitative and qualitative content analysis of both American and international reportingbetween the years 1991 and 1999. He used four sources: The New York Times (American), TheTimes of London (British), Le Monde (French), and As-Safir (Lebonese). He conducted randomsampling for each individual newspaper by choosing every fifth article from the comprehensivesample for the entire time period, which yielded 139 news articles per newspaper. The studyevaluated coverage of Arabs/Muslims and Israelis in terms of “aggression,” “intransigence,”“terrorism,” “competence/incompetence.” To operationalize terrorism, coders looked for wordslike: terrorist, hostage taker, kidnapper, captor, murderer, Jihad, Guerrillas, mob. A similarapproach was taken to the other key terms, all of which were organized in a coder manual andcoder sheet. In total, 12 volunteer coders were recruited, and three coders were assigned to onenewspaper. To determine inter-coder reliability, every second coder coded the first 10% that wascoded by the first coder. Oumais used the Holsi formula which requires a minimum of 80%inter-coder agreement. He then conducted a training session where the coding sheet and keyconcepts were explained, and the researcher and coders coded three articles together. Resultsshowed that all four newspapers considered Arabs and Muslims as more incompetent, whereasIsrael was considered more competent. Israel was considered more aggressive and intransigent,whereas Arabs and Muslims were more likely to be considered terrorists. The Times of Londonand Le Monde focused more on intransigence, while The New York Times focused more on
  11. 11. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 11terrorism. This study only measured negative stereotypes and how often they were associatedwith Israelis and Arabs/Muslims. It also narrows the context of news to articles where bothIsraelis and Arabs/Muslims are mentioned together. Although this study is helpful in confirmingwidely held assumptions that Western media has a positive bias toward Israelis, the narrow scopeleft out a lot of content that only addressed Muslims. Quantitative studies conducted after 9/11 are even more difficult to find, which suggeststhat a comparative analysis that includes post-9/11 data is particularly important. Mishra (2006)conducted a study that does cover both the period before and after 9/11. This study looked athow the media described Islam’s compatibility or incompatibility with democracy from 1985 to2005. Content was categorized in three ways: democracy is compatible with Islam; democracyis incompatible with Islam; and other (which included topics Iraqi and Afghani electoral issues,U.S. policy problems, Israel-Palestine conflict and “other”). Using a detailed set of criteria, fournewspapers qualified for membership in the U.S. prestige press: The New York Times, TheWashington Post, The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. To analyze thesenewspapers, LexisNexis was used for selecting articles in The New York Times and TheWashington Post. Factiva was used for identifying articles in The Wall Street Journal. Relevantarticles from the Los Angeles Times were purchased directly from its website. Results indicated that overall the media was three times more likely to emphasize theincompatibility of Islam and democracy rather than the compatibility of the Muslim religion anddemocratic system of government. However, the percentage of articles focusing onincompatibility of Islam and democracy declined in the years during George W. Bush’spresidency when compared to coverage during the presidential tenures of Ronald Reagan,George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Further, compatibility of Islam and democracy was more
  12. 12. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 12likely to appear in letters to the editor and editorials than news articles and opinion columns.Looking at references to the compatibility of Islam with democracy could be one indicator ofwhat might constitute moderate news coverage. The references apply largely to political Islam atthe state level. More analysis is needed which includes additional indicators of moderation in thenews that apply to the individual level and community level as well. The selected studies in this review are largely designed to test assumptions aboutnegative stereotypes and Islam. It is not surprising that results confirmed assumptions overall.Although I don’t expect that an updated analysis would produce a shift from overall negativeframing to overall positive framing, a new study that focuses only on positive framing would bea good sign of whether there is a trend toward increased moderation in coverage.Theoretical Framework It’s safe to say that much of the media commentary after the 9/11 terrorist attacks wasoften emotionally charged. But given the trauma of the event, many writers were also reflectiveabout how “the enemy” was being betrayed and how that might affect Muslim Americans athome. When the dust settled, there were calls for tolerance and a rejection of the tendency toapply the actions of a violent few to the values of a peaceful many. Even after 9/11, Muslimnations have dominated international news reporting. Americans are reading more about thevarious groups, governments and cultural shifts within the Muslim world. Because of this higherlevel of engagement, I speculate that media coverage of Muslims has become more nuanced.During the course of the various conflicts that have sprung up in the past 10 years, the mediaitself has had to play catch-up on who the key players are, where they come from, and what theirmotives truly are. In an effort to perhaps better explain political motives and put them intocontext, I would contend that the media has worked harder to portray a more complex picture of
  13. 13. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 13Muslims by choosing to publish articles that reject a depiction of “the other” and employ positiveframes more often associated with Westerners. Instead of stories that reinforce notions ofMuslims as backward, extreme, fanatically religious, or deceitful, I predict more stories haveappeared that show Muslims sharing what are considered to be “American” values. This is notto say that more coverage is now positive rather than negative. Muslims and Islam are in thenews frequently simply because violent conflicts have been taking place across the Muslimworld. Terrorism is also still a genuine problem, and many do associate themselves with Islam,albeit a highly radical and corrupt version of it. Thus, I don’t predict that writers and reporterswill be able to completely free themselves of the hard news cycle. Therefore, I propose to testthree hypotheses to measure whether the number of print articles that associate Islam andMuslims with moderation have increased or decreased since before 9/11: H1: Compared to the period before 9/11, more stories overall will use positive frames after 9/11. H2: There will be more feature stories that employ the use of themes reflecting moderation after 9/11. H3: There will be less change in themes among hard news stories.In H2, feature stories range from a column, an editorial, or any article that does not contain alede that reports breaking news. Including feature stories as an independent variable is animportant measure of attitude shifts toward perspectives on Islam because they are not driven bythe regular news cycle, and writers have more agency in the topics they choose to pursue as wellas the angle they choose to write from.Methodology
  14. 14. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 14 The study will employ content analysis to measure article themes in a selection of U.S.national newspapers between the time period of January 1979 and November 2010. November1979 marked the start of the Iranian hostage crisis and December 2010 was the beginning of theArab Spring movement. The Iranian hostage crisis was a particular turning point in American-Arab relations where media coverage heavily focused on the “cruelty and authoritarian” natureof the Iranian regime. The study will start in January of that year to capture coverage bothdirectly before this event and after to see if any changes may have taken place. The Arab Springhas been another turning point, but perhaps in the opposite direction. The revolutionaries havebeen largely supported in the West, and media coverage of the movement has ascribed moredemocratic values to the protesters. This study will measure up to the beginning of the ArabSpring so that this exceptional movement will not affect the data. The media outlets chosen for this study are considered to part of the American “prestigepress.”1 Past studies have largely focused on print media due to their extensive influence on therest of media and have always included at least an analysis of The New York Times. This studywill also use The New York Times in addition to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post,and The Los Angeles Times. LexisNexis will be used for selecting articles in The New YorkTimes and The Washington Post. Factiva will be used for identifying articles in The Wall StreetJournal. Relevant articles from the Los Angeles Times will be purchased directly from itswebsite. To test H1, the number of articles that employ moderate themes will be recorded duringthe specified time period. To test H2 and H3, the article type will also be recorded. Additional1 I have borrowed the rationale for qualification in the U.S. prestige press from a study of Islam and democracyconducted at the University of Texas. For the complete justification, see Smeeta Mishra’s study (2006, p. 82).
  15. 15. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 15information will also be recorded including the publication, date, and level of analysis. Thecomplete Coding Manual and Coding Sheet can be found in Appendix I.Discussion of Terms Coding for a moderate theme cannot be a completely objective task. For the purposes ofthis study, I have chosen five important indicators that cover the political, ideological, culturaland economic aspects of “moderation” and which could be applied at the individual, group, orstate level. The indicators for a moderate theme will be Muslims as responsible allies, Muslimsas promoters of democratic values, Muslims as supporters of non-violence, Muslims asintellectuals, and Muslims as successful businesspeople. Although these indicators provide ascope of a definition for moderation, these themes are not measureable by themselves. In orderto conduct a quantitative analysis, I have created a dictionary that is appropriate for eachindicator (see Figure 1). In a database search of newspaper articles, the terms Islam (+ anyvariation), Muslim (+ any variation) in combination with the words from each indicator thatappear within the first three paragraphs will constitute a salient reference to a moderate theme.Some articles may make only a passing reference to these terms. In order to weed them out, onlythe first three paragraphs of the article will be analyzed, which is where the theme is usuallyestablished.
  16. 16. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 16 Indicator: Terms: Muslims as responsible allies Partner, ally/allies, cooperation, trust, invaluable, reliable, team Muslims as promoters of democratic values tolerance, religious freedom, free speech, women’s rights, human rights, equal rights, secular, open debate Muslims as supporters of non-violence peace, understanding, diplomacy, healing, non- violence, pacifism, moral high ground Muslims as intellectuals Intellect, thinker, opposing views, authority, dialogue, wisdom, expert Muslims as successful businesspeople Business-savvy, modern, innovative, entrepreneur, free market, jobs, employmentFigure 1. List of Indicators and Relevant TermsSampling Once database searches are completed, I anticipate that the initial sample will be verylarge. To make the study feasible, a sampling method will be employed also used by Sheikh,Price, and Oshagan (1995, p. 144). Based on their study, collecting 30 articles per year wasdeemed to produce a sufficient sample size. For each newspaper, eight stories per year will besystematically sampled (with a random start date) that adds up to a total of 32 articles a year.This sample will yield a total of 256 articles per newspaper and a total of 1024 articlesaltogether. For each newspaper, the 256 news articles will then be given a number of 1 to 256.A table of random numbers will be consulted to sample 200 articles from each newspaper. Thefinal sample will have a total of 800 articles.Inter-Coder Reliability To code the samples, 12 volunteer coders will be recruited so that three coders will beresponsible for one newspaper. The coders will be trained on the coding manual and codingsheet. Discussion will be encouraged when questions arise. Then a pretest will be conducted
  17. 17. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 17where the coders for each newspaper will code 20 articles. Every second coder will code thefirst 10% of the articles coded by the first coder to increase inter-coder reliability. At the end ofthe pre-test, all coders will share their results with each other. The Holsi formula requires 80%inter-coder reliability (Oumais, 2001). Additional questions will be resolved and any necessaryadjustments in the guidelines for coding will be made. Coders will continue to complete theCoding Sheet for the 800 articles and the results will be analyzed.Conclusion It is clear that a wide-reaching study is needed to look at the presence of positivestereotypes associated with Muslims and Islam. As a society, it’s important to assess our ownprogress. To measure moderate themes in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, TheWashington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, I’ve chosen five indicators that I believe is thebest representation of what most people would characterize as moderate. Each indicator is alsoassociated with a list of terms which will serve as the best guide for defining a salient reference.I’ve attempted to employ a method which will yield a large sample size, but still maintain thestudy’s feasibility. Fortunately, a content analysis study is relatively inexpensive. There may be some costsinvolved in obtaining a sufficient number of articles from each news source, especially now thatnewspapers have started to monetize their content. It may also be difficult to recruit qualifiedcoders who are experienced in textual analysis. My intent is that by providing a larger number ofcoders, I will increase the amount of agreement between them. Even still, the amount of contentrelative to the number of coders is high. Assembling the content might take one to two weeks,but I anticipate the coding portion of the study to take a couple of months. Coders will need timethoroughly analyze the text, discuss any hesitations, and take a sufficient number of breaks.
  18. 18. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 18 Although I’ve tried to provide clear guidelines on what constitutes a moderate theme, Iwill also have to sacrifice some objectivity. Training and the pre-test exercise will be critical toobtaining a certain level of consistency. I am also limiting this study to a small number of printmedia sources. Others have argued that television news is a ripe media source for analyzingcultural stereotypes. Including news-magazine style media sources, such as The AtlanticMonthly and The Economist, may also yield a greater amount of feature content wherealternative narratives are often told. In the end, I chose the four newspaper sources purely fortheir long-term influence in foreign reporting. Additional studies that include additional sources,and perhaps a wider definition of moderation, would be beneficial in order to further strengthendata that results from this study.
  19. 19. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 19 Appendix I Coding ManualArticle Type: Newspaper: Theme: Level of Analysis1 – News article 1 – New York Times 1 – Muslims as responsible allies 1 – individual2 – Feature article 2 – Wall Street Journal 2 – Muslims as promoters of 2 – group democratic values3 – Editorial/Column 3 – Los Angeles Times 3 – Muslims as supporters of non- 3 – state violence4 – Letter to the Editor 4 – Washington Post 4 – Muslims as intellectuals 5 – Muslims as successful businesspeople Coding Sheet ID Number Publication Newspaper Analysis Level of Theme Article Type Date
  20. 20. MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA: ROOM FOR MODERATION? 20 ReferencesAl-Zahrani, A.A. (1988). U.S. Television and Press Coverage of Islam and Muslims. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Oklahoma, USA.Breuning, M. (1983). "Local media structure and issue salience as determinants of coverage: The case of the Arab world as covered by The New York Times. Unpublished masters thesis, Ohio State University, Columbus.Hafez, K. (2000). Islam and the West in the mass media : fragmented images in a globalizing world / edited by Kai Hafez. Cresskill, NJ : Hampton Press, 2000.Mishra, S. (2008). Islam and Democracy: Comparing Post-9/11 Representations in the U. S. Prestige Press in the Turkish, Iraqi, and Iranian Contexts. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 32(2), 155-178. doi:10.1177/0196859907311694Mousa, I. (1987). The Arab Image: The New York Times, 1916-1948. Gazette: The International Journal for Mass Communication Studies, 40(2), 101-120.Oumais, N. (2002). The Western Elite Press Construction of Islam (the Arabs and Iran) (1991-- 1999). Dissertation Abstracts International. Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 62(12), 3982.Panagopoulos, C. (n.d). The Polls – Trends – Arabs and Muslim Americans and Islam in the Aftermath of 9/11. Public Opinion Quarterly, 70(4), 608-624.Said, E. (1978). Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books.Said, E. (1981). Covering Islam. New York: Pantheon Books.Sheikh, K. Z., Price, V., & Oshagan, H. (1995). Media Treatment of Islam: What Kind of Picture Do the Media Paint?. Gazette: International Journal for Communication Studies, 56(2), 139-154.Stempel III, G.H. (1952). "Sample size for classifying subject matter in dailies," Journalism Quarterly, 29(3): 333-34.