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Representations of Islam in British broadsheet and tabloid newspapers 1999–2005

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This paper describes the analysis of an 87 million word corpus of British newspaper articles which refer to the subject of Islam. In order to examine representations of Islam and Muslims, the corpus was subjected to a comparative analysis, by analysing the lexis that was used most significantly in the tabloid articles, when compared to the broadsheets, and vice versa. Concordances were then analysed in order to investigate the data in a more qualitative way. It was found that the tabloids tended to focus more on British interests, writing about Muslims in a highly emotional style, in connection with terrorist attacks and religious extremism, focussing on a small number of high-profile Muslim “villains”. On the other hand, the broadsheets had a more restrained reporting stance, writing about Muslims in a wider range of contexts, although their focus on world news resulted in them covering more stories about Muslims engaged in wars. The paper raises issues regarding the meaning of bias, and the process by which readers internalise lexical associations and the extent to which such associations impact on attitudes
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Keywords: Muslim; bias; corpus; keywords; media; representation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 15, 2010

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