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Terror attacks receive five times more media coverage if perpetrator is Muslim, study finds

Muslims carried out just 12.4 per cent of attacks in the US but received 41.4 per cent of news coverage

Terror attacks carried out by Muslims receive more than five times as much media coverage as those carried out by non-Muslims in the United States, according to an academic study.

Analysis of coverage of all terrorist attacks in the US between 2011 and 2015 found there was a 449 per cent increase in media attention when the perpetrator was Muslim.

Muslims committed just 12.4 per cent of attacks during the period studied but received 41.4 per cent of news coverage, the survey found.

The authors said the finding suggests the media is making people disproportionately fearful of Muslim terrorists.

Scientists studied US newspaper coverage of every terrorist attack 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 six people 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 above attacks are considered to meet widely-used definitions of terrorism, according to researchers at Georgia State University.

The authors said their finding 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 Muslims 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.

“Whether the disproportionate coverage is a conscious decision on the part of journalists or not, this stereotyping reinforces cultural narratives about what and who should be feared.

“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.”

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