A Pragmatic Analysis of Islam-related Terminologies in Selected Eastern and Western Mass Media
Author: Isyaku Hassan
Keywords: Islam, Media discourse, online news, pragmatic analysis, terminologies, terrorism
The mass media are blamed for constructing a negative image of Islam through the use of Islam-related terms in reporting terrorism. It is presumed that when Islam-related terms are used without regard to their original connotations, they are likely to lose their original meanings and begin to take on altered meanings created by the media. Therefore, this study aims to explore the use of Islam-related terminologies in selected eastern and western mass media outlets in relation to their semantic and linguistic interpretations. The study employed a qualitative approach in which content analysis was used. Using purposive sampling, The Jordan Times and Al-Jazeera were chosen from the eastern Arab world while The BBC and The Guardian were chosen from the western media. A total of 368 news articles focusing on Islam and Muslims were collected from the selected news media outlets using internet-based search from March 2018 until October 2019. The findings showed significant differences (P = 0.000/P < 0.05) exist between the selected eastern and western mass media outlets in using Islam-related terminologies. The terms are used more frequently in the western media outlets than in the eastern media outlets. Further analysis of the findings revealed that the selected media outlets use Islam-related terminologies, such as “Islamist” and “Jihadist”, in negative contexts. The use of Islam-related terminologies in the selected media outlets could be influential in making the audience to perceive Islam as a religion of terrorism. The negative use of Islam-related terms could be minimized through training of journalists on news coverage of religion, provision of proper guidelines on religious reporting, and ensuring that these guidelines are strictly followed. It was envisaged that this study would be useful to the media outlets, particularly in the process of news gathering, production, and dissemination.