Even seven years after the attacks on the World Trade Centre media coverage has not changed at all: Religion is primarily associated with terrorism. Almost half of all statements about Islam have been negative in the American ABC, CBS and NBC network news. In the UK, BBC and ITV news showed a slightly less negative tone towards Islam, but violent attacks dominated the news. Thus high awareness is triggered by the news value of conflict, in Germany Muslims accordingly receive 20 times the coverage of Buddhists or the Jewish communities, as the latest analysis of the Zurich-based research institute MEDIA TENOR shows. But the religious life of Muslim plays no major role in the news reports – which is very much in line with the TV coverage of other religious groups.
“When TV stations broadcast the footage from the terrorist attacks on the seventh anniversary again and again, the German public will not be able to find out, whether these deed conformed to the rules of the Koran or not“, explains Roland Schatz, editor-in-chief of MEDIA TENOR the long-term analysis of the coverage of religion in German main evening TV news shows. “As long as the news selection conforms to those existing stereotypes, the people have no chance to develop a balanced opinion on the merits of Islam“. Schatz therefore recommends additional lecture of daily newspapers and the weekly press.
The results of MEDIA TENOR´s continuous and comprehensive media content analysis are corroborated by regular domestic and international polls: Most people name print media as their favoured source of information about Islam. For this study MEDIA TENOR has analyzed 11,294 statements in 3 US main evening TV news for the period from 01/2007 to 03/2008 and 12,861 statements in 3 British main evening TV news. In Germany 6,550 news stories have been analyzed between 2001 and 2008 that dealt in-depth with a religious institution.
MEDIA TENOR monitors the news coverage of opinion-leading German media outlets since 1994. For this study in the US MEDIA TENOR analyzed ABC, CBS and NBC news, in the UK BBC and ITV and in Germany all broadcasts of ARD TAGESSCHAU and TAGESTHEMEN, ZDF HEUTE and HEUTE JOURNAL and RTL AKTUELL from January 2001 until July 2008. A detailed description of the methodology can be found at www.mediatenor.de.
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