Mass Media Islam and Inter-Community Relations

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Title Mass Media Islam and Inter-Community Relations
Author Rane, Halim
Publication Title Mass Media Islam and Inter-Community Relations
Editor Shahram Akbarzadeh
Year Published 2008
Abstract This paper explores the relationship between the Australian media coverage of Islam and relations between Muslims and the wider Australian society. It is based on the findings a telephone survey that was conducted with a sample of 500 people randomly selected from the Brisbane-metropolitan region. The survey examined the public’s media use and sources of information about Islam and Muslims, knowledge of Islam, interactions with Muslims and attitudes towards them. The findings of the survey show that while the media is the primary source of information about Islam and Muslims, this does not necessarily translate into negative attitudes towards them. The overwhelming majority accept Muslims as part of Australian society and do not perceive them as a threat to the country. However, while negative attitudes towards Muslims are held by a minority, their proportion of the population is sufficient to provide a substantial market for pejorative coverage of Islam and Muslims in segments of the Australian press. In spite of extensive coverage of Islam and Muslims in the media, the public continues to lack a sound understanding of the religion and its adherents; most respondents to the survey are not familiar with even the basic teachings of Islam. The study found, however, that interpersonal interaction with Muslims correlates highly with positive attitudes towards them. Direct interaction with Muslim people is an effective means of improving inter-community relations and offsetting the impact of pejorative representations of Islam in the media. The lack of correlation between the pejorative media representations of Islam and Muslim can also be explained in terms of the public’s negative perceptions of the Australian media. Although reliant on the media for information about Islam and Muslims, most respondents identified the Australian media’s coverage of Islam and Muslims to be negative. Public perceptions of the media as lacking credibility and objectivity, as well as perceptions of it being sensationalist and ratings-driven has diminished the potential of the Australian media to be more influential in shaping the Australian public’s perceptions of Islam and Muslims.
Peer Reviewed No
Published Yes
Publisher URI http://nceis.unimelb.edu.au/events/conferences/2008
Conference name Challenges to Social Inclusion in Australia: The Muslim Experience
Location University of Melbourne
Date From 2008-11-19
Date To 2008-11-20
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/37003
Date Accessioned 2009-02-09
Language en_US
Faculty Arts, Education and Law
Subject Sociology
Publication Type Conference Publications (Full Written Paper - Non-Refereed)
Publication Type Code e2

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