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On-screen Muslims: Media priming and consequences for public policy

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Given consistent findings concerning the media’s effect on shaping attitudes related to minority groups, it is important to understand the impact of the common anti Muslim portrayals currently appearing in many facets of US media. The current study implements an experimental design with five conditions (negative hard news, positive hard news, negative entertainment, negative comedy news and the control) and two dependent variables (support for identity-based policy issues and approval of civil liberty restrictions), and 175 student participants. We investigate the varying impact these different media formats and frames have on attitudes towards Muslims, attitudes related to identity-based policies and on civil liberties protection. The findings indicate that both positive and negative news and comedy news presentations have greater impact than the pure entertainment and control group conditions, and that subjects viewing negative news presentations are much more likely to approve restriction on civil liberties than in the other conditions.
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Keywords: Muslims in the media; attitudes toward Muslims; civil liberty restrictions; identity-based policies; media framing; media priming

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: J. D. Pepperdine University, USA 2: The University of San Diego, USA 3: The University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

Publication date: March 20, 2012

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  • The emergence of satellite TV, the internet and digital technology have dramatically changed the way audiences receive information and interact with the media. The sudden success of Al-Jazeera and other Arab broadcasters have altered the way the Arab world narrates itself and reports news from the region to the rest of the world. The journal aims to lead the debate about these emerging rapid changes in media and society in Arab and Muslim parts of the world.
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