Final Project: The New York Times & Islamic Crime Research

The following assignment was a group project for a Mass Media & Society course.

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Research Proposal

The following assignment was a group project for Mass Media & Society.

Sarah Owens, Chloe Ye, Jordan Butler

Dr. Akinro

Mass Media & Society

18 September 2017

Research Proposal

Tentative Topic/Title: The New York Times Comparative Analysis: Muslim Crime Coverage & Christian Crime Coverage. A qualitative analysis of media coverage in relation to religion.

What is the purpose of our study?: To analyze how the media reports on crime when there are Muslim victims, versus Christian victims. The media loves to talk about topics such as Islamaphobia – will we find the effects of Islamaphobia in the media? Is the media responsible for instilling such a fear in our society? Or are they being objective, and creating a platform of conversation for our citizens? Does the medias coverage of this topic increase a subcultures fear and anxiety? Here are just a few links we are looking over. So far it has been effortless to find sources in the New York Times regarding Muslims who have been attacked, but finding Christians who have been victims of crime is difficult, but maybe it’s just a rhetorical/semantics thing? Or maybe not? Since this will be a qualitative analysis, semantics will be important, so we are paying close attention to headlines, to begin with.

Potential Source One  – The Daily, New York Times, Muslim as victims crime (podcast coverage):

Potential Source Two – The New York Times, Christian Crime:

Source Three –

Potential Source Four –

Potential Source Five –

Why are we interested in the topic or issue?:  It will be interesting to see what methods reporters use when covering topics concerning Muslim and Christian crime. Are journalists objective with both subjects? Or do they shy away from certain questions, and content in fear offending readers? Is one type of religious crime covered more than the other, especially in relation to demographics? What do the statistics say about crime rates? How does the media coverage of crime against Muslims affect the Islamic community? In comparison, how does the media coverage of crime against Christians affect the Christian community? Is there equal coverage of both types of religious crimes? Is there enough crime on both sides for it to be equal?

What platforms do you plan to study the issue e.g. TV broadcast, newspaper, fashion magazine, social media etc.?: The New York Times podcast, and website/blogged articles.

What methods would you use for data collection?: This will be a comparative qualitative analysis. We will analyze rhetoric, visuals, and how the media communication was framed for each piece of content. The main idea is to understand media content.

Data Instrument, Coding & Theory

The assignment below was a group project for Mass Media & Society.

Sarah, Chloe, and Jordan

Dr. Akinro

Mass Media & Society

10 November 2017

Data Collection Instrument, Coding and Theory

Theory: According to Papacharissi, and Fatima Oliveira in their article, News Frames Terrorism: A Comparative Analysis of Frames Employed in Terrorism Coverage in U.S. and U.K. Newspapers, “Scholars have been increasingly concerned with portrayals of terrorism in mainstream and alternative media outlets.” We choose framing theory to guide our research in identifying persistent patterns of cognition, interpretation and presentation, of selection, and emphasis of grievance terrorism in The New York Times. This was an important theory approach because “frames present a central part of how individuals cognitively comprehend and file events, especially in times of conflicting accounts and factual uncertainty (p 53).”

 “To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating ext, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, casual interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described (Entman, 1993, p. 52).” 

Methodology:  This study uses a mixed method approach to analyze the tone in the coverage of Muslim American crimes in the United States. We integrate qualitative and quantitative research methods by analyzing the rhetoric of four articles from The New York Times. We measured the amount of negative, positive, and neutral verbiage, while paying attention to the religious symbolism found throughout our selected articles. One article is a feature story,  two opinion pieces, and one hard news story.

 Definition of Categories:

According to James H. Wittebols article “Politics and Coverage of Terror: From Media Images to Public Consciousness, there are two types of terrorism: institutional terrorism, and grievance terrorism. We will be working with grievance terrorism, which is defined as to challenge and/or attain power, redress grievance or expose cause, create fear. Negative tones within our stories will be identified as those that emphasize terrorists and their motives on a personal level by interviewing the terrorist themselves, or related family members. Positive tones will be identified as stories that are politically distant, and show an universal sense of suffering by highlighting a victim, their story, and face to create a diffusion of sympathy in readers. A neutral tone will have an equal balance of quotes and/or features from politicians, and victims of terrorist attacks.

Coding Manual:

A positive tone suggests that there is a focus on the victims or families, and the threat of terrorism is generalized to all Americans. A negative tone suggests that the main attraction of the story is the causes of an incident, and highlights the perpetrator in a way that allows terrorists to gain power by building up fear. A neutral tone suggests that there is an equal amount of coverage given to the victims, and cause of the incident briefly incorporating the intent of the perpetrator.

Code 1 – when the tone is positive

Code 2 – when the tone is negative

Code 3 – when the tone is neutral

Code 4 – when the tone is unclear

Article type: Opinion

Headline: Hate Crimes Against American Muslims Most Since Post-9/11 Era

Date: September 9, 2016

Length: Five pages long

Code: 2

Article type: Hard News

Headline: Gunman in Texas Shooting Was F.B.I. Suspect in Jihad Inquiry

Date: May 5, 2015

Length: Six pages long

Code: 2

Article type: Opinion

Headline: Nabra Hassanen and the Lost Innocence of Ramadan IHOP Nights

Date: June 24, 2017

Length: Three pages

Code: 1

Article type: Feature Story

Headline: The Two Americans

Date: August 26, 2017

Length: Nineteen pages

Code: 3


 Two of our articles were negative, one was positive, and one neutral. In the negative articles, we see am ample amount of rhetoric dedicated to the perpetrators, opening an opportunity for the said terrorists to capitalize on the power that comes from installing fear in readers. The positive article highlights a victim of a crime against a Muslim American and shows the story from the perspective of the victim. The neutral story balances it’s content between authoritative officials, the perpetrator, and the victims. It gives the characters in the story a face, and intentions, which diffuses empathy in its readers as a result.


It’s an all-American Ramadan ritual. According to the police, Darwin Martinez Torres had a dispute with one of the teenagers whom Ms. Hassanen was walking with on their way back from suhoor at IHOP around 4 a.m. Mr. Torres then followed the group, first in his car and then on foot, striking Ms. Hassanen with a metal baseball bat and taking her with him when he left the scene. An hour before Ms. Hassanen was attacked, she was praying at her mosque. Her mosque, like mosques in communities around the country, must have been alive this Ramadan with prayers like these, as well as late-night basketball games and groups of kids gathering for early-morning food runs.

In the killing last year of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, N.C., for instance, the authorities did not bring hate crime charges against a neighbor who is charged with murdering them, despite calls from Muslims who said there were religious overtones to the violence. While the most current hate crime statistics from the F.B.I. are not expected until November, new data from researchers at California State University, San Bernardino, found that hate crimes against American Muslims were up 78 percent over the course of 2015. Some scholars believe that the violent backlash against American Muslims is driven not only by the string of terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States that began early last year, but also by the political vitriol from candidates like Donald J. Levin’s nonpartisan group, based on official police reports in 20 states, estimated that there were about 260 hate crimes against Muslims nationwide in 2015. The trend has alarmed hate crime scholars and law-enforcement officials, who have documented hundreds of attacks — including arsons at mosques, assaults, shootings and threats of violence — since the beginning of 2015.

Eight people were killed and almost a dozen injured when a 29-year-old man in a rented pickup truck drove down a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City. The suspect was identified by two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov. He’s from Uzbekistan in Central Asia but had been living in the US since 2010, sources said. Authorities found a note claiming the attack was made in the name of ISIS near the truck used in the attack, a senior law enforcement official said. The incident is being investigated as terrorism, officials said. Witnesses reported the suspect was yelling “Allahu Akbar,” according to four law enforcement sources. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is taking over the lead of the investigation. Many witnesses on the scene thought it was a terrorist attack.

Elton Simpson, 30, and Nadir Hamid Soofi, 34, who lived in the same apartment complex in Phoenix — to come to this Dallas suburb and open fire Sunday outside a gathering that showcased artwork and cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Weeks ago, Garland police commanders, assisted by city and school district officials, came up with a security plan shortly after the district agreed to rent the facility to the organizers, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a New York-based group that also uses the name Stop Islamization of America. Simpson, an American-born convert to Islam who was adored by the young men who frequented the Islamic Community Center in northwest Phoenix, was convicted in 2011 of lying to F.B.I. agents — denying that he had made plans to travel to Somalia when in fact he had.

Soofi were shot to death by a Garland traffic officer who was part of a beefed-up security presence outside the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, where artists were offered a $10,000 top prize for the best caricature of the prophet. The official, who spoke about the investigation on condition of anonymity, said there was no evidence so far that the attack had been directed or planned by a foreign terrorist group, though sorting out the communications between the attackers and militants using social media and other means would take some time. Joe Harn, a Garland Police Department spokesman, discussed the shooting on Sunday outside an event in Texas that featured cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.






































Works Cited



Liebes, T., & Kampf, Z. (n.d.). Routinizing Terror: Media Coverage and Public Practices in Israel, 2000-2005. Retrieved from,                5067.1


Papacharissi, Z., & Oliveira, M. D. (2008). News Frames Terrorism: A Comparative Analysis of Frames Employed in Terrorism Coverage in U.S. and U.K. Newspapers. The International                   Journal of Press/Politics, 13(1), 52-74. doi:10.1177/1940161207312676


Wittebols, J. H. (1991). The Politics and Coverage of Terrorism: From Media Images to Public                  Consciousness. Communication Theory, 1(3), 253-266. doi:10.1111/j.                                      1468-2885.1991.tb00018.x

Literature Review

The following assignment was group project for Mass Media & Society.

Sarah Owens, Chloe Ye, Jordan Butler

Dr. Akinro

Mass Media & Society

4 October 2017

Literature Review

Source One: McQueeney, K. (2014). Distrupting Islamophobia: Teaching the Social Construction of Terrorism in the Mess Media. International Journal Of Teaching in Higher Education, 26(2), 297-309.

  1. Krista McQueeney from Merrimack College is the author of this article titled Disrupting Islamophobia: Teaching the Social Construction of Terrorism in the Mass Media.
  2. The purpose of this article is to answer three of the following questions: 1) How do every day Americans define “terrorism” and perceive “terrorists?” 2) Where do these images come from? 3) What are the consequences for domestic and foreign policy?
  3. The researcher did not use a theory for his research.
  4. Critical media literacy was utilized with a social role analysis method. The author is looking through a sociological lens and analyzing social structures as a technique for teaching students about the social construction of terrorism. The author also acknowledges the importance of rhetoric, and displays findings linked to a rhetorical analysis.
  5. The result of this study revealed that most students associate the word ‘terrorist’ with the Muslim/Arab community, despite the fact that the word has its roots in European culture, and originated as state-sponsored terrorism. The students have been affected by the social construction of words that they see in the media.
  6. This article drives home the point that analyzing rhetoric is incredibly essential. Words have definitions, connotations, and history that we must study to understand their meaning since our cultures can alter our perceptions of reality. It is essential that we learn to step out of our worldview and analyze issues from multiple perspectives. We must learn to suspend our opinions.

Source Two: Knott, K., Taira, T., & Poole, E. (2013). Media Portrayals of Religion and the Secular Sacred : Representation and Change. Burlington: Routledge.

  1. The authors of this book are Knott, Kim, Taira, Teemu, Poole, Elizabeth and the title is ‘Media Portrayals of Religion and the Secular Sacred: Representation and Change.’
  2. The purpose of this article is to answer three of the following questions: 1) Is it true that Christianity is being marginalized by the secular media, at the expense of Islam? 2) Are the mass media Islamophobic? 3) Is atheism on the rise in media converge? The authors do a quantitative analysis of newspaper and television references to religion and the secular sacred.
  3. The researcher did not use a theory for his research.
  4. This article does a content analysis of British media coverage and representation of religion and contemporary secular values from the 1980s and 2008-2010 to consider what has changed. Therefore, this article has done a content analysis.
  5. They looked at three daily newspapers (The Times, The Sun and a local paper, the Yorkshire Evening Post) for one month. In tandem, the analyzed BBC1, BBC2, and ITV1 for one week. They analyzed the frequency and reference to religion since media landscape is ever-changing and doing such an experiment will inevitably be saturated in endogeneity flaws. This article is full of information; however, The Times and The Sun were full of references to common religion, and The Yorkshire Evening Post was evenly balanced.
  6. The overall take away from this article is that different news sources will vary in their approach to covering religion, which is why it is essential to analyze the rhetoric of the content we ingest.

Source Three: Schultze, Q. J. (2003). Christianity and the Mass Media in America: Toward a Democratic Accommodation. East Lansing, Mich: Michigan State Univerity Press.

  1. The author is Schultze, Quentin J. and the title of this article is Christianity and the Mass Media in America: Toward a Democratic Accommodation.
  2. The purpose of this article is to analyze American sentiments and thought about the mass media.
  3. The author did not use a theory for his research.
  4. Archival research and rhetorical analysis method are utilized in this article.
  5. The author argues that American democracy depends on religion, but not on any particular religious institution. In short, American Protestant culture/evangelical and mainline groups have always had contrasting rhetoric. The 20th century brought to life the rhetorical idea of the American Dream and created a quasi-religious perspective.
  6. Religion has and will always be a source of tension and disagreement in any multicultural society.

Source Four: Meindl, J. N., & Ivy J. W. (2017). Mass Shootings: The Role of the Media in Promoting Generalized Imitation. American Journal Of Public Health, 107(3), 368-370. Doi: 10.2015/AJPH.2016.303611

  1. The authors of this article are James N. Meindl, Ph.D., and Jonathan W. Ivy, Ph.D., and the title is ‘Mass Shootings: The Role of the Media in Promoting Generalized Imitation.’
  2. The Purpose of this article was to show how the media played a role in what happened of these terrifying mass shootings. This article was to display and talk about who and what lives were affected inside and outside of the shooting.
  3. The author refers to many sources online or many news sources so he could complete his research and findings
  4. The method that was used in this article was by his analysis and conclusions he put them all together to come to a general end on how the media affects this sort of event.
  5. The author argues because of how the media acts or puts out the events that occur when the mass shootings happen he argues that if another mass shooting has happened recently after the one put out, it’s mainly because of the media and how they go about things.
  6. The media has a lot to do with the events going on in today’s world whether it’s good or bad the media has a lot to do with what’s today and all the events that have happened.

Source Five: Smith, S. L., Lachlan, K. M., Boyson, A. R., Wilson B. J., Tamborini R., & Weber, R. (2004). Brandishing guns in American media: two studies examining how often and in what context firearms appear on television and in popular video games. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, (4). 584.

  1. The authors of this article are Stacy L. Smith, Ken Lachlan, Katherine M. Pieper, Aaron R. Boyson, Barbara J. Wilson, Ron Tamborini, and Rene Weber. The title is ‘Brandishing Guns in American Media: Two Studies Examining How Often and in What Context Firearms Appear on Television and in Popular Video Games.’
  2. The purpose of this article is to determine the amount and context of gun violence across 2 electronic media. Study 1 focuses on the landscape of gun violence on television.
  3. The author uses different sources as far as TV and video games to see on which would appear more than often.
  4. The method that was used was a tough one because there are many shows and games that have firearms or guns even cartoons. But he compared a Tv source and a video game to examine how often and the context that fire arms and weapons are used.
  5. The overall findings and results will vary because there are many sources such as video games and Televised sources that could’ve been used and the author listed many in the article.
  6. The take away of this article isn’t an excellent one considering that people are comfortable with flashing guns and using fire arms on TV and video games. Most of the people who do mass shootings are either teens or young adults. Because the media shows off things like that the people who do mass shootings either think they can get away with it or that it’s okay because they’ve seen it on TV or in a video game.

Source Six:  Hawdon, J., Oksanen, A., & Rasanen, P. (2012). Media Coverage and Solidarity after Tragedies: The Reporting of School Shootings in Two Nations*. Comparative Sociology, 11(6), 845-874. doi: 10. 1163/15691330-12341248

  1. The authors of this article are James Hawdon, Atte Oksanen, and Pekka Rasanen. The title of the article is Media Coverage and Solidarity after Tragedies: The Reporting of School Schoolings in Two Nations.
  2. The purpose was to show the media coverage of school shootings can provide insight into how this coverage can affect communities.
  3. The theory he used was a basic one which was to compare two mass shootings across the nation and export his findings.
  4. His method was to support his findings with the context of the media and how the media played a factor in both of his comparisons of the two school shootings across the nation
  5. The finding result was that both of these shootings had something in common and were affected mainly by the media and who was on the inside and the outside of the mass shootings.
  6. The overall take away is that I think that the media needs to sometimes back off and media sources play a significant role in what goes on in today’s world with the technology and video games and what is shown on TV.

Source Seven:

  1. The authors of this article are Dakin And one, Justin Gamble, and Amanda Watts. The headline is ‘Shooter kills one, wounds 7 at Tennessee church.
  2. The purpose is to report an incident in the shooting of the church and deplore the shooting of innocent people.
  3. The theory used for this article is cognitive and behavioral, interpretive the even and criticize the shooting of such acts.
  4. Critical media literacy was used with a social role analysis method. The author is looking through a sociological lens, analyze the character of the shooter and Robert Engle, use the mass investigation to understand the situation when the incident occurred
  5. Terrorist attacks have been involved in beliefs, even if the shooter motive has not yet been established,
  6. The article described two social problems, one is religious belief, the other is the abuse of firearms.


Source Eight:

  1. The authors of this article are Demetria Kalodimos, Alanna Autler, Liz Lohuis, and Edward Burch WSMV-TV. The headline is ‘Five victims in Nashville area church shooting remain in stable condition.’
  2. The police have shown that reducing violence is the primary task of the district prosecutor’s office, after this shooting event in the church, encourage people to find the courage to face the country’s gun violence, for the children to seek a safer future.
  3. he theory used for this article is structural and functional since it is analyzing social constructs. Describe events in different groups of people and critical shootings.
  4. Surveys, Social Role Analysis, Depth Interviews . Depth analysis of the impact of events on society and people, investigate people’s views on social issues
  5. Churches, schools and neighborhood parks should be safe space, but the shooting in the church to make people more worried
  6. Abuse of guns is still a very serious problem in society, already this year there have been 264 mass shootings in America. This is not normal. This needs to stop. people have got to find the courage to face their nation’s gun violence problem together and demand a safer future for our future.


Complete Summary:  This literature review allowed us to observe different research method techniques spanning the broad context of mass media concerning religion, and shootings. We see the importance of analyzing the rhetoric used by the press since words have definitions, connotations, and affect their viewers in different ways. We’ve seen in these articles that religion is a huge source of tension, and the media has the power to frame these topics of tension in specific ways, which alter societies perceptions of reality.