You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Study: Media fuelling Islamophobia in NZ

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/03/2017
News Key © Thinkstock News Key

The news media could be fuelling Islamophobia in New Zealand, according to a study.

New Zealanders, whether they are liberal or conservative, show both increased anger and reduced warmth towards Muslims if they are more avid news consumers, the study which appears in international science journal PLOS ONE says.

The research is based on responses from 16,584 New Zealanders from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study, a 20-year longitudinal study.

New Zealand is a good test for speculation about media-induced Muslim prejudice because of anything tolerant Kiwis might tend to reject intolerant stereotypes, reducing the effect of the media.

"However we find that the association of prejudice towards Muslims with more media exposure holds across the political spectrum, and is specific to Muslims," University of Otago lecturer Dr John Shaver, the article's lead author, says.

"This indicates that it is widespread representations of Muslims in the news that is contributing to lower Muslim acceptance, rather than any partisan media bias. The media, regardless of politics, tend to publish violent stories because violence sells."

Professor Joseph Bulbulia of Victoria University of Wellington, also a co-author, notes: "Sadly, there may be real-world consequences for Muslims in this country, people who encounter prejudice across their daily routines, at the workplace, and in their children's schools."

Despite the study's bleak message, the authors remain optimistic.

"Though un-making prejudice is difficult, we hope these results challenge the media to present fairer representations of Muslims."

Started by Auckland University Professor Chris Sibley in 2009, the NZAVS is a national probability study of social attitudes, personality and health outcomes of 18,000 individuals.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon