Many Muslims believe that their religion is being unfairly portrayed by the American news media. Recent events in Paris as well the downing of a Russian airliner and threats of Paris-style attacks in the United States have undoubtedly exacerbated the issue. A March 24, 2016 Time magazine article entitled, “Fear Breeds Extremists” highlights the common failure of many media institutions to properly differentiate Muslims from Jihadists.
A recent PBS FrontLine documentary, broadcast on CNN called “The Rise of ISIS” illustrates this issue first-hand. Muslim members of ISIS are repeatedly referred to as “monsters”. This reference may be justified in some cases but unfortunately there is very little effort made in the documentary to differentiate between peaceful Muslims and the religious extremists that make up militant groups such as ISIS.
Muslims are routinely stereotyped by the American media as savage killers devoid of reason. In fact, numerous studies conducted by Media Tenor have revealed that the tone of media coverage about Islam is worse than after 9/11. “Media Tenor examined 2.6 million Western news stories from American, British and German outlets, and found that the media’s coverage of Islam has rarely, if ever, been positive. The average tone of coverage, which has always been poor, continued to worsen in the decade after 9/11. Most coverage depicted Islam, Muslims, and Muslim organizations as a source of violence and a security risk, but seldom dealt with the lives of ordinary Muslims.”
These portrayals are not only irresponsible, they are also potentially detrimental to the health and well-being of the millions of peaceful Muslims who live around the world. In light of this issue, I believe that it is incumbent upon western media outlets to strongly discourage the erroneous use of the terms Muslim or Islam when speaking in regard to Jihadists. A clear differentiation must be made between Muslims and Jihadists in an effort to avoid the spreading of detrimental stereotypes.
Link to source article: http://time.com/4270539/fear-extremism/