You can download the Greater London Authority (GLA) report, ‘The Search for Common Ground” can now be downloaded by clicking here.

My research and writing can be found in chapter 2 of the report. I want to make sure that everyone is aware of my contribution as there have been ‘political’ problems with some parts of the report. The key findings of my chapter are shown below (reproduced from the Executive Summary):

Chapter 2: A normal week?

To explore the context and implications of representations of Islam and Muslims in the media, a study was made of the British press over the course of a week. The week beginning Monday 8 May 2006 was chosen at random about a month in advance. A count was made of every article mentioning ‘Islam’, ‘Muslims’, derivatives such as ‘Islamic’ and ‘Islamist’, and words and phrases with an obvious association with Islam, for example ‘Sunni’ and ‘Shi’a’.

On the basis of these criteria, 352 articles were identified. They were categorised according to type of paper, whether they were about domestic or international affairs, whether the context was negative, positive or neutral, and whether the articles expressed a sense of threat or crisis. The principal findings included:

• There were substantial differences between daily newspapers with regard to how many articles mentioning Islam or Muslims they contained during the week in question. There were just over 50 articles in the Guardian, over 40 in The Times, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph and Independent, but less than 20 in the Sun, Mirror, Express and Star.

• Tabloids and broadsheets differed not only in the amount of coverage they provided but also in whether they focused on domestic or international affairs. Close to 60 per cent of articles in tabloids pertained to Britain and 40 per cent to the wider world. In the case of the broadsheets, however, the proportions were the other way round: 60 per cent were about the wider world, and 40 per cent about Britain.

• Of the 352 articles that referred to Islam and Muslims during the week in question, 91 per cent were judged to be negative in their associations. Only four per cent were judged to be positive, and five per cent were judged neutral.

• In 12 of the 19 papers studied during the week there were no positive associations.

• In the tabloids, 96 per cent of all articles were judged to be negative, compared with 89 per cent in the broadsheets. It is relevant to bear in mind in this connection that the combined circulation of the The search for common ground Muslims, non-Muslims and the UK media xvii tabloids is about three times greater than that of the broadsheets (May 2007 figures).

• It was judged that almost half of the articles represented Islam as a threat. Of these, about a third pertained to Britain and two-thirds to the wider world.

• The overall picture presented in the media during the week in question was that on the world stage Islam is profoundly different from, and a serious threat to, the West; and that, within Britain, Muslims are different from – and a threat to – ‘us’.

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