Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Representation of Muslim Australians in the Media Essay

The Representation of Muslim Australians in the Media - Essay Example Introduction In the modern world, the media plays a major role in the society in not only informing people daily events and issues but also takes a central position in shaping how people perceive certain elements. With a ubiquitous presence that signifies the vast potential it has in informing people about societal affairs and groups of people, the media is viewed as having the ability to shape peoples’ opinions by the way it presents certain versions of reality. Although other various forms of new media have come up in the recent past including the electronic media, their impact on the society is not different from that of the traditional media. Moreover, the widespread presence of the media and their designated role as the reliable conveyors of news and information gives it a central position in defining the society’s perception of minority groups1. How the media articulates certain issues about these minority groups informs the basis and framework through which the m ajority audiences come to think and form opinions about them. Due to their small number in the society, the media generally fail to represent minority groups in the society by marginalizing them, thereby making them invisible. On the other hand, when representation of minority groups is present in media, it is more often than not restricted and takes a negative angle, or is totally constructed due to held stereotypes2. It is imperative to note that these continued negative representation and stereotyping of minority groups in media is not unconnected with how the society reacts towards them. The role enormous role of media in determining how the majority perceive minority groups is further made clear by Van Dijk3, stating that that media discourse is the major source of people’s knowledge, attitudes and ideologies. It follows that when the discourse is directed at minorities coupled with limited interactions with these groups; this role becomes amplified and more critical. Re presentation of Muslims in Australian Media There has been considerable debate and discussion regarding the representation of Muslims in the media particularly in the recent past following the September 2001 terrorist attacks. The above ideas can be directly applied in examining the way in which the worldwide Muslim community and the Australian Muslims in particular are represented in the media. Religion in general has always suffered in the hands of the media but there seems to be a distinct repugnance towards Islam and Muslims. This continued media coverage of Islam and Muslims has elicited considerable response from the Muslim community in Australia for some time now. There is a considerable amount of literature and research that illustrates Western and Australian media discourses that regarding Islam and Muslims and more often than not it is found that most of the representations are negative albeit with a few neutral standings. Since the terrorist attacks in September 2001 in t he United States, the media coverage of Muslims and Islam in Australia has tended to be taking two very different positions. The media either totally ignore the Muslims and discussion of Islam, making it the ‘invisible minority’, and in effect denying them participation among the urban citizenry. Conversely, the media has represented Muslims in

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