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Many Americans feel coverage of poor, Muslims, Hispanics is too negative

Living on a prayer: Muslims prray August 11, 2010 at Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Centre in Falls Church, Virginia, US. College educated Americans are significantly more likely than those who have not attended college to say media treatment of Muslims is too negative; a majority of those with college experience (53 per cent) say this, compared to just 30 per cent of those with a high school education or less.Photo: Getty Images / Daylife

Muslims and low social economic standing groups are portrayed too negatively in the US media, pluralities of Americans feel. Negative coverage of the black and Hispanic communities trail closely behind, a new study has revealed.

When asked about coverage of Muslims in the news, 40 per cent of the younger generations and 24 per cent of those 65 years and older believed it was too negative. The difference becomes more significant when assessing factors of educations, with 51 per cent of those with a college degree and 30 per cent of people with a high school diploma or less believing coverage is too negative.

These are the results of latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted August 12-15 among 1,005 adults by the Pew Research Centre for the People & the Press, which also finds that Americans continued to track the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico last week more closely than other major stories.

Race and political standing played a significant role in the responses concerning the coverage of African Americans. About 3 per cent of Caucasians believe coverage was too negative, compared to 58 per cent of African Americans from the sample population. Some 52 per cent of Democrats agree that coverage of both black and Hispanic demographics are too negative, while only 22 per cent of Republicans agree with the statement. Similar trends are seen for homosexuals in the news, with 40 per cent of Democrats and 22 of Republicans believe the media could give stories on gays and lesbians a more positive spin.

Social economic standing seemed to have the most drastic responses between Democrats and Republicans. A large percentage of Democrats (61 per cent) believe news coverage of people with low incomes is too negative, as opposed to 28 per cent of Republicans who agree with the sentiment. Yet when examining the wealthy, 37 per cent of Democrats believe coverage is too positive in comparison to 24 per cent of Republicans. Over half of both Democrats and Republicans believe that coverage is fair the middle class.

The study also measured the validity of the media's coverage of race relations. Pew reported that 48 per cent of the sample believe that the news portrays relations between races worse than reality, while only 24 per cent agree that the media accurately describes race relations.

Concerning the amount of coverage, 34 per cent believed media organisations give too much attention to race issues while 31 per cent believed that race issues are given too little coverage. The divide in statistics becomes further apparent when examining responses from specific demographic groups. About 41 per cent of Democrats believe race is given too little coverage, while only 20 per cent of Republicans and 32 per cent of independents agree with this statement. Some 49 per cent of younger audiences (18-29 years old) also believe race should be covered more throughout the media, compared to 18 per cent of those 65 years and older.

College educated Americans are significantly more likely than those who have not attended college to say media treatment of Muslims is too negative; a majority of those with college experience (53 per cent ) say this, compared to just 30 per cent of those with a high school education or less.

And while a 59 per cent majority of Democrats say press coverage of Muslims is too negative, Republican and independent opinion is somewhat more divided. Republicans and independents are about equally likely to say coverage is generally fair (38 per cent of Republicans and 35 per cent of independents) as to say it is too negative (36 per cent of Republicans and 39 per cent of independents).

Date posted: August 21, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 139