A typology of negativity: What Muslim sources think of the news and news workers
Muslim sources in the news think reports about them and their religion are negative. Yet they persist in engaging. We need a clearer picture of what they say about news and the people who make it.
The sentiment turns up in general studies about Muslims in Britain, either as responses to researcher questions or spontaneous comments. And it’s not just their opinion: scholars have a long track record of pointing out negative representations of Muslims in the media, from Edward Said and Jack Shaheen in the 1980s to bespokestudies on mediarepresentations.
My research explores the role Muslim sources play in the creation of news about Muslims in the UK. I interviewed journalists from a range of news organisations and sources from a range of social institutions to ask about that relationship and, from that, consider how it contributed to media representations.
What this typology doesn’t do is explain why, if it’s so negative, Muslims bother taking part in these media processes in the first place. It is equally possible for a Muslim in Britain to say, “These media narratives are so negative; I must do something to change them!” and, “These media narratives are so negative; there’s no point in trying to change them.”
It’s good for us to learn more about those who contribute to media reports about Muslims. Understanding their perseverance can help us imagine the conditions in which the representations about Muslims in the media may change.
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