A new blog post talks about a ‘tone-checking’ as a way to reduce the systemic Islamophobia in media

The contrast in attitudes toward refugees from Ukraine in 2022 compared to those from Syria in 2015 is stark and notable. While a range of factors shape this difference, the media’s portrayal of Muslims and Islam undoubtedly plays a role. Scholars have demonstrated how widespread negative coverage of Muslims affects both attitudes and policy preferences. To counter this dynamic, we propose that media outlets and citizens “tone-check” stories that touch on Muslims, much in the way they “fact-check” to ensure accurate reporting.

In Covering Muslims: American Newspapers in Comparative Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2022), we analyze over 1 million US newspaper articles from 17 national, regional, and tabloid newspapers from 1996 to 2016. We use a validated sentiment analysis method that checks words in these stories against those in eight separate dictionaries of positive and negative words. We benchmark all scores against a random sample of over 48,000 US newspaper articles, which allows us to directly compare the tone of stories mentioning Muslims, Catholics, Jews, Hindus, African Americans, Latinos, Mormons, and atheists.

Read the full blog post