Introduce issue/area of study -
This study will analyse The Sun newspapers coverage of the Boston Bombings; focusing strongly on the rhetoric of an articles published in relation to the widow one of the suspected perpetrators of the Bombing and the representation of Islam, the religion of the two suspects. The object of this study is to discover whether the article published by the second most is widely read Newspaper in the UK, contains any evidence of anti-Islamic bias.
Following the September 11th acts in the United States, hate crimes against Muslims and people of Asian heritage; who were often assumed to be Muslims by their assailants, increased dramatically in the United States, rising by 1600% according to the FBI.
However due at least in part to the global extensive coverage, hate crimes were reported in Africa and Europe. The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) claimed that this was true of the United Kingdom as well, while Aizu Merani of the Islamic Human Rights Commission said 9/11 had been a catalyst for a "major explosion" in anti-Islamic feeling in the UK.
Recently, Tell Mama, a Government backed project set up to monitor hate crimes against Muslims, reported 632 incidents in last year according to the BBC, suggesting that anti-Islamic feelings are still present within the UK.
In the past it has been suggested The Tabloid, owned by Media oligarch Rupert Murdoch and his news corporation company, has spread anti-Muslim/Islamic rhetoric.
In 2008 the Independent newspaper revealed that two years prior The Sun newspaper had incorrectly claimed that a “Muslim hate mob” had vandalised a house as part of a vendetta against four British soldiers from the same regiment as Prince Harry. The incident was described in the article as a “Muslim Insult” to “British heroes.”
Later, it was discovered that there was no Muslim involvement in the incident. Nonetheless, the powerful rhetoric and false story was believed by an MP, who spoke out passionately against Muslims in response.
According to scholar Yvonne Ridley (2007, 97), British Journalists are 100 times more likely to relate Islam to terrorism than any other faith.
As a developing Journalist and media scholar, I am interested in representation and bias within the Media sphere. Thus, I have decided to analyse an article entitled “Brainwashed : American beauty radicalised by husband” for evidence of bias. Appendices A contains a link to the article.
Utilising the theoretical frameworks of representation, stereotypes, bias, Journalism law and critical political economy, I intend to raise questions of the Political economy of Media and the concept of Free Press.
Does The Sun newspapers’ article centred on Kathryn Russell, the widow of Bombing Bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, suggest an Anti-Islamic bias?
Literature Review -
For this analysis, I researched the works of numerous theorists in the fields of bias, representation and critical political economy. In his book “Detecting Bull” (2009), John H. Mcmanus highlights the technique of “framing” as being key to detecting bias in Journalism. He warns of the dangers of misrepresentation and bias to society and attempts to help readers learn how to recognise bias in a myriad of News media formats.
While acknowledging the difficulty or near impossibility of unbiased reporting, Guy Starkley (2007) suggests that good Journalists use a mixture of sources and opinions in order to craft a balanced piece. Boyd (2001) and McLeish (1994) advocate similar approaches.
McNair (2008) argues that bias is somewhat unavoidable as it is the role of the editor to decide what is news-worthy and what people will be interested in as a result of the commercial aspect of the Media. In their propaganda model, Herman and Chomski (1997) agree that Journalists and editors are not necessary responsible for bias but that they are prisoners of a system