SHAFAQNA- The November 2015 416 Labs report states that there is a “significant bias” against Islam and Muslims in the New York Times that is likely to lead the average reader to “assign collective responsibility to Islam/Muslims for the violent actions of a few.”
“When we went into it we didn’t think it would be surprising if Islam was one of the most negatively portrayed topics in the NYT,” says co-author Usaid Siddiqui. “What did really surprise us was that compared with something as inherently negative as cancer, Islam still tends to be more negative.”
Islam was portrayed negatively in 57 percent of headlines during the period of analysis, with cancer and cocaine being evaluated at 34 and 47 percent respectively. Islam was portrayed positively in less than half the headlines as cancer.
Christianity and Judaism, meanwhile, were portrayed negatively in 37 and 34 percent of headlines, 20 or more percent less than Islam.
Islam was mentioned in 5.4 headlines per day in 2014, nearly a 1,000 percent rise from 2013, likely due to ISIL. The percentage of negative headlines regarding Islam and Muslims also jumped in 2014, to 68 percent from 35 percent in 2009.
The negative portrayal of Islam is not new, according to the report, as the percent of negative headlines regarding Islam exceeded the overall average in the NYT in every year measured. The report’s findings offer qualitative proof of something many Muslims have long suspected, says co-author Owais Arshad, who disseminated the findings to several prominent Muslim groups, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“Over time it just became too rampant to ignore,” Arshad says. “Among the Muslim friends I have, there’s been a distinct recognition that the media is a source of information, but a source of biased information.”
The report references its findings as proof that bias against Muslims is not limited to conservatives, noting that, “While the liberal media has been more nuanced in its portrayal, it has ultimately adhered to the same convention that portrays Muslims as the ‘other.'”