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Canada’s National Post worst offender

Toronto: The National Post, Canada's newest national daily, has earned the dubious distinction of being a repeat ‘worst offender’ in its characterization of Muslims and Islam. According to the third annual Canadian Islamic Congress report, ‘Anti-Islam in the media, the National Post far exceeded five other leading Canadian dailies, in both the frequency and pejorative slant of its language pertaining to Muslims and their faith. 

With its frequent use of phrases such as ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘Muslim militants,’ ‘Islamic fundamentalists,’ and similar wordings, the Post was found during the study period to contain more than 230% as many negative references as the average of other media examples, even when the same stories were covered by other newspapers.

In addition to the Post, CIC's year-long study monitored the French-language La Presse; English dailies The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Sun, The Ottawa Citizen, and Montreal Gazette, as well as Maclean's Magazine, Reader's Digest and CBC Television's nationally aired English network evening news programs.

The newspapers, as ranked from worst to best (in order) were: National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, La Presse, Globe and Mail, and Toronto Star. The Toronto Sun was monitored, but not ranked. 

But some good news has emerged from statistics gleaned over the past three years. The CIC report found that, in general, Canadian media are steadily improving the quality and sensitivity of language used in their coverage. ‘The Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail have improved from being the worst three years ago, to being the best this year. Both demonstrated that journalists can cover news and views without using anti-Islamic terminology,’ said CIC president Dr. Mohamed I. Elmasry, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Waterloo. ‘The presence of anti-Islam in the media is a professional quality issue and can be rectified. We hope that the National Post will follow the lead of the Star and Globe and Mail in this regard.’

Wahida Valiante, CIC national vice-president, warned that ‘anti-Islam in the media can instigate hate against a minority groups and hate jeopardizes the mental and physical well-being of individuals, especially children.’ Mrs. Valiante is an experienced social worker and family counselor, who frequently witnesses the damaging effects of stereotyping on her visible-minority clients.

Data gathered from each newspaper surveyed were also evaluated on a multi-stage grading system that compensates for inequalities in areas such as circulation, location of the stories, etc.

Previous editions of ‘Anti-Islam in the media’ have been used as supplementary resource material by a number of Canadian journalism schools. The 2000 edition is being distributed in paperback book form as well as through CIC's website: 2000/anti-islam.html

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