Attack media coverage ‘making people disproportionately fearful of Muslim terrorists’, study finds

Terrorist attacks in the US by Muslims are given up to five times more media coverage than those carried out by non-Muslims, according to a US academic study.

Jul 5, 2017

Terrorist attacks in the US by Muslims are given up to five times more media coverage than those carried out by non-Muslims, according to a US academic study. Analysis of coverage of all acts of terrorism between 2011 and 2015 found media attention is making people disproportionately fearful of Muslims. Muslim terrorists committed just 12.4 per cent of attacks during the survey period but received 41.4 per cent of news coverage, research reveals. Scientists studied US newspaper coverage of every terrorist event on American soil and counted up the total number of articles dedicated to each attack. They found that the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which was carried out by two Muslim attackers and killed three people, received almost 20 per cent of all coverage relating to US terror attacks in the five-year period. In contrast, reporting of a 2012 massacre at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left twice as many dead and was carried out by Wade Michael Page, a white man, constituted just 3.8 per cent of coverage.? A mass shooting by Dylann Roof, who is also white, at an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, killed nine people but received only 7.4 per cent of media coverage, while a 2014 attack by Frazier Glenn Miller on a Kansas synagogue left three dead but accounted for just 3.3 per cent of reports.? All of the attacks researched and listed by Global Terrorism Database (GTD) were considered to meet widely-used definitions of terrorism, according to researchers at Georgia State University. The report authors – Erin M Kearns, Allison Betus and Anthony Lemieux – said their findings debunked Donald Trump’s suggestion, made in February, that the media is not reporting terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims. “When President Trump asserted that the media does not cover some terrorist attacks enough, it turns out that he was correct,”?they wrote. “However, his assertion that attacks by Muslim perpetrators received less coverage is unsubstantiated. “Regardless of other factors, attacks perpetrated by Muslim receive a disproportionate amount of media coverage. In the present data, Muslims perpetrated 12.4 per cent of the attacks yet received 41.4 per cent of the news coverage. “By covering terrorist attacks by Muslims dramatically more than other incidents, media frame this type of event as more prevalent. Based on these findings, it is no wonder that Americans are so fearful of radical Islamic terrorism. Reality shows, however, that these fears are misplaced.” Since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, most people in the US have heard the word ‘terrorism’ and thought of Muslims, the study suggests. But terrorism “comes in many forms”. Each article the researchers counted focused primarily on the act of terrorism, its perpetrators, or the victims. It had to appear in a US-based media source between the attack date and the end of 2016. They found 2,413 news articles that met their criteria. Of the 89 attacks, 24 did not receive any media coverage from the sources they examined. The small proportion of the attacks that were by Muslims received 44 per cent of the total?news coverage. In only five per cent of all the terrorist attacks, the perpetrator was both Muslim and foreign-born, but those four attacks got 32 per cent of all the media coverage. In real numbers, the average attack with a Muslim perpetrator is covered in 90.8 articles. Attacks with a?foreign-born Muslim perpetrator are covered in 192.8 articles on average. Other attacks received an average of 18.1 articles. The researchers noted that how much media coverage a particular terrorist attack gets is influenced by a host of factors. For example, if the perpetrator is arrested, there is more coverage of the charges, hearing, trial and so on. Attacks against governmental facilities or employees receive more coverage. And more deaths and injuries also mean more media coverage. But even when allowing for all this, attacks by a Muslim perpetrator get 449 per cent more cov

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