The recent mass shooting in New Zealand revealed once again the hypocritical stance of Western media outlets towards such incidents, showing that the nature of the coverage of the attack varies depending on the identity of the attacker, whether he or she is Muslim or not.
A recent report proves this unjust approach by the Western media, showing that terrorist attacks by Muslims receive 357 percent more coverage than other groups.
The report, which was originally published in January but re-circulated after the recent terror attacks in New Zealand, analyzed U.S. news coverage of 136 terrorist attacks from 2006 to 2015 and found that figure even though Muslims were the perpetrators just 12 percent of the time.
This small fraction of attacks received half of the total media coverage during the nine-year time frame, according to the study.
“Whether the disproportionate coverage is a conscious decision on the part of journalists or not, this stereotyping reinforces cultural narratives about what and who should be feared,” the authors wrote.
The resurfacing of the research came after a white nationalist terrorist killed 50 worshipers at two mosques in New Zealand last Friday.
In the aftermath of the attack, many media outlets refrained from using the word “terrorism” when defining the incident since it was carried out by a white, non-Muslim male.
The terrorist released a manifesto prior to the attack in which he spewed anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric and said he supported U.S. President Donald Trump as a symbol of “white identity.”
The study was conducted by the University of Alabama and Georgia State University, using data from the Global Terrorist Database, an open-source database of terror events from 1970 through 2017.
“The disparities in news coverage of attacks based on the perpetrator’s religion may explain why members of the public tend to fear the ‘Muslim terrorist’ while ignoring other threats,” the study said.
Although the recent attack caused the issue to come to the fore, the problem of biased media coverage towards Muslims is a topic that has been studied for quite some time now.
A 2016 report released by a Toronto-based consulting firm 416 Labs also reveals that the Western mainstream media portrays a negative and biased perception of Islam and Muslims in their headlines.
The report, “Are Muslims Collectively Responsible? A Sentiment Analysis of The New York Times,” used The New York Times as a case study, making comparisons between the usage of the words Islam/Muslims and other words, such as alcohol, cancer, Yankees, Christianity and Republican.
The report was prepared by using data from The New York Times from 1990 to 2014. It compared the headlines to “Identify the specific terms associated with Islam and Muslim, while simultaneously categorizing them as positive, negative or neutral.” The report was prepared by making a comparative analysis with other keywords, including Alcohol, Christianity, Cancer, Democrat, Republican and the New York Yankees.
According to the findings of the report, 57 percent of headlines using the words Islam/Muslim had negative meanings attached, while only 8 percent of headlines were positive.
Compared to other keywords used to make the comparison, the words Islam/Muslim scored the highest when it comes to implying negative connotations.