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Newspaper coverage of Muslims in the US is negative in tone, new report says

News coverage involving Muslims by four major US newspapers is significantly more negative than that of African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos or Jews, according to a report.

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US Congressional elections of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, Supreme Court validation of the Muslim ban, transfer of US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestine, reduction of US financial participation in UNRWA, the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees...

The year 2018 was loaded with news involving the United States and the Muslim world, and the newspaper coverage of this news has not always been flawless.

The information comes from the «Report on Media Portrayals 2018 Newspaper Coverage of African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Jews, and Muslims» published by the Middlebury College in the state of Vermont, in a recent report.

The study examines media coverage in 2018 of five racial, ethnic and religious groups: African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Jews and Muslims. Four major publications were reviewed: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. In total 26,626 articles were published on these five groups in 2018.

US newspaper coverage of Muslims is significantly more negative in tone

The first conclusion is that although Muslims constitute, with Jews, around, respectively, 1% and 2% of the American population, the media coverage they are subject to «is both the most frequent and the most negative by a wide margin».

«This is principally due to reporting on foreign conflict zones», the report says, adding that nearly a third of the more than 9,000 articles mentioned more than three times the keywords «Muslim» or «Islam».

However, it appears that the number of articles in which Muslims were spoken about is lower in 2018 than in previous years. «The higher article counts in 2015, 2016 and 2017 are likely due to specific newsworthy events such as the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks (...) the worsening of the Syrian refugee crisis, and the original proposals of Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ respectively, all of which garnered significant media coverage. In 2018, monthly article counts fluctuated between a low of 621 in September to a high of 885 in April», the same source adds.

Nevertheless, «US newspaper coverage of Muslims is significantly more negative in tone than coverage of African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, or Jews. That said, the average tone of Muslim articles has become less intensely negative over the past five years», the researchers say.

These observations are linked to the decline of the terrorist group «Islamic State» and the Syrian refugee crisis, «two highly negative subjects that received sustained international attention in 2015 and 2016».

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