Orientalism, Islamophobia and even thinly disguised racism: the media’s treatment of Islam is criticised daily by social agents from across the ideological spectrum.
Islam, media subject is an original study about Islam in the French media (1997-2015). This study is the outcome of a collaboration between Moussa Bourekba, researcher at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), and Skoli, our recently created agency specialized in data analysis and data-visualization.
The study analyses how the presence of the term “Islam” in the news media varied over time, quantitatively (how much the term is used and if its use can be connected to events/news) and qualitatively (adjectives or words mostly associated with “Islam”).
To do so, it gathers over 40,000 articles containing the word “Islam” in the three most prominent French newspapers (Le Monde, Libération and Le Figaro) and analysed them with a variety of python libraries to do part-of-speech tagging combined with occurrences counts.
The results of the study show, among other things, the extent to which 9/11 was the birth of a media subject that had been marginal until then. From a more qualitative logic, this analysis also allows to analyse the vocabulary used by newspapers to refer to Islam as well as its evolution over time.
Here are some key findings:
+440% It is the increase in the number of appearances of the term Islam (and its derivatives) in the archives of the three newspapers between 1997 and 2015.
46 It is the average occurrence of the term Islam (and its derivatives) registered per day in all three newspapers in 2015, compared to less than 9 in 1997.
16.886 It is the number of appearances of the term Islam (and its derivatives) registered in 2015.
22.187 It is the record of appearances of the term Islam (and its derivatives) registered in a year. It was in 2001.
3.690 It is the record of appearances of the term Islam (and its derivatives) registered in a month. It was in October 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, and it surpasses the total of 1997, the one of 1998 and the one of 1999.
The results of Islam, media subject are available on a web interface, blending dynamic data visualisations with analysis. This study is available in English at this link: http://en.islam-objet-mediatique.fr/. To have full access to all of the features, you should display it on a normal screen (i.e. not a smartphone).