Postdoctoral Fellow: Nadia Haq

‘How a Society Tells a Story about Itself’ – Journalists’ Accounts of the Enduring and Contradictory Nature of Muslim Representation

My PhD explored the contradictions journalists face when powerfully embedded ideas about the role of democratic journalism are confronted with the anti-Muslim bias in the press industry they work for. By exploring these contradictions through qualitative interviews with journalists, my research contributes a deeper understanding of negative representations and the ways in which journalists negotiate their own agency when it comes to Muslim-related stories. This approach also uncovers where spaces for resistance and contradictions to these negative representations can be found in journalism practices.

To redress the media bias against Muslims, the thesis called for the re-conceptualisation of journalistic practices in line with their civic role in society. This involves a reconsideration of how journalists view their audiences and ideas of public interest together with a reinterpretation of the values, codes and conventions of democratic journalism to align with a wider public interest that includes Muslims as an integral part of British society. 

A significant contribution of my thesis was that it shifted the empirical focus away from the analysis of media content to get a better understanding from journalists themselves about the enduring reproduction of negative Muslim representations. Under the fellowship, I will expand the academic impact of my PhD through the preparation of a monograph, journal articles and conference papers, as well as future research funding applications. The fellowship will also enable me to influence journalistic practices on a policy level by sharing my research with press regulators and media campaigners. Drawing on the lessons learnt from my research, I will be developing a toolkit to act as a guidance for local journalists on best practice for reporting stories involving Muslims. This will be further complemented by the organisation of a workshop to bring together journalists with Muslim community groups to develop more informed journalistic practice.