This report was written and edited by the Ethical Journalism Network’s Aidan White in 2018 to investigate the ways in which Muslims are portrayed in the media across Europe. It investigates how media report on topics where the problem of anti-Muslim bias often arises, particularly migration and terrorism. The aims of the investigation are to establish the prevalence and nature of bias and to look at what is being done and can be done in the future to counter negative narratives.

The report was commissioned in partnership with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The countries included are Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.


Introduction

This report has been compiled by the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) to investigate the ways in which Muslims are portrayed in the media across Europe. It investigates how media report on topics where the problem of anti-Muslim bias often arises, particularly migration and terrorism. The aims of the investigation are to establish the prevalence and nature of bias and to look at what is being done and can be done in the future to counter negative narratives.

The countries included are Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

In carrying out this investigation, which covers the years 2015-2017, the investigation has reviewed relevant material including EJN regional reports on the coverage of migration within those countries and a further ten countries bordering the Mediterranean; current literature on reporting terrorism; news reports from both print and online media. The report looks at how the bias emerges in the coverage of two major stories that have dominated headlines in Europe over the recent years – terrorism and migration.

The report examines also the internal and external pressures that influence how journalism works, in particular the structural and commercial changes that are reducing newsroom capacity as well as the growing and persistent threat of undue political influence.

The nature of Islamophobia, which can be generally defined as the fear, hatred of, or prejudice against, the Islamic religion or Muslims generally, and its influence on politics and media reporting is highlighted in a special country focus. To further obtain some perspective from different interested parties a series of five interviews were carried out including with human rights activists, a policymaker at the European Commission, an anti-racist activist and a national newspaper religious affairs journalist.

The report makes a number of recommendations for journalists, media and policymakers, perhaps the most important of which is for media leaders to recognise and embrace the reality of diversity by making inclusion a conscious choice in the way that stories are framed and the way that they organise newsgathering.

When they do this, media will help people confront hatred and discrimination and build confidence and trust in the values of dialogue, co-operation and respect for others.

Finally, this report reflects the realities of journalism in difficult times, but it is also prepared in a framework of respect for key policies and human rights standards.


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