Investigating the Use of Language in Islam-related News: Evidence from Selected Non-Western Online Newspapers

Author: Isyaku Hassan

Keywords: media language, news articles, newspapers, non-western media, sensationalism


The manner in which language is utilized in reporting Islam is disheartening. This is because sensationalized language, especially in the news media, could reinforce negative stereotypes. As such, those who rely on the media to understand Islam are likely to develop negative preconceptions about the religion. This study aims to investigate how the non-western online newspapers use language in news coverage of Islam. Content analysis was used to collect and analyze the data. Using purposive sampling, Punch and Vanguard were selected from Nigeria while The Star and New Straits Times were selected from Malaysia. A total of 599 Islam-related news articles were collected from the selected newspapers using internet-based search from November 2015 until September 2016. The findings showed that almost half of the overall Islamrelated articles conveyed negative tone toward Islam while very few conveyed positive tone. This shows that the language used in news coverage of Islam is inappropriate and sensational. Hence, there is a need to enhance the reporters’ knowledge and writing skills through inter-media exchange program, exposure to different religious, social and cultural lives, workshops, seminars, conferences, as well as sensitivity training and retraining on reporting religions.