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What style guides tell secular journalists about Muslims and Islam

Munnik, Michael B. ORCID: 2023. What style guides tell secular journalists about Muslims and Islam. Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture 12 (1) , pp. 56-75. 10.1163/21659214-bja10083

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Journalists in secular contexts report – accurately and fairly, we hope – on religious communities and events. Quantitative studies of media content and discourse have suggested a rise in reporting on religion in general and, since 9/11, Islam in particular, with misrepresentations and negative representations. I draw on findings from a new study evaluating journalistic style guides on their representation of Muslims and Islam. A researcher and I reviewed academic literature on style guides, surveyed news organisations across the UK for the tools they use, and assessed those tools. In this paper, I consider the representations that emerge in ten different resources, ranging from in-house style guides to documents prepared by charities and even that most basic of resources – the dictionary. I consider their ease of use, their currency, and the quality of their contents. I am also attentive to the political context: for example, The Guardian has a richer, fuller, and more explanatory set of entries related to the tradition and its adherents than The Daily Telegraph, and this matches assessments of how these news organisations treat Muslims and Islam. From this, I comment on the adequacy of these style guides for such an important news topic in the 21st Century and problematise the utility of style guides in general as a resource for uncertain journalists.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Uncontrolled Keywords: Muslims; journalism; UK; style guides; news language; representation
Publisher: St John's College, Durham
ISSN: 2165-9214
Funders: Cardiff University Research Opportunities Programme, Santander Universities
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 January 2023
Date of Acceptance: 21 December 2022
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2023 09:51

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