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Aspiration and ambivalence among Muslim news sources: A case study in Glasgow

Munnik, Michael 2015. Aspiration and ambivalence among Muslim news sources: A case study in Glasgow. Presented at: IAMCR 2015, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, Canada, 12-16 July 2015.

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Abstract

The conference theme addresses the ambiguous power of communication. Whereas structuralist scholars in the tradition of Stuart Hall have characterised certain news sources as “primary definers” with a hegemonic ability to influence journalists, a counter-stream of scholarship suggests the relationship between journalists and sources is more contingent. Such scholars direct attention to source strategies for securing news coverage. Coverage becomes an accomplishment, and efforts to secure it are sometimes successful and sometimes not. In this paper, I examine this ambiguity in relation to news sources who identify as Muslim in Glasgow, Scotland. Based on interviews, observation, and documentary analysis, my paper focuses on the work of a Muslim women’s centre as its members maintain and advance their position as a reliable source for journalists. I narrate the centre’s positive change of fortune whilst publicising a media campaign in 2012, analysing reasons for this with respect to their media strategies. I then examine the group’s trajectory since, as members try to capitalise on their momentum. Group members discuss their aspiration to nurture reciprocal relationships with journalists, but they also discuss ambivalence about the worth of pursuing such a relationship. I consider the former quality (aspiration) in light of Nick Couldry’s concept of media meta-capital and the pervasive power of media to impose their priorities other social fields. The latter quality (ambivalence) results from what members perceive as a failure of their communication strategies, and I identify internal and external factors that contribute to this. These include dynamics between colleagues, possession of social capital, the importance of “Muslim stories” for mainstream journalists, and the vulnerability of stories to the news cycle. The empirical data support the theory of news as an accomplishment and challenge the concept of primary definition; however, the result for this source group is not unalloyed success: members cannot assume easy access to journalists and publicity for their centre’s activity. In this paper, I imagine a discrete category of news sources—Muslim sources—and consider their media relations in the context of the literature on journalist-source relations generally. Their experiences with negotiating and maintaining relationships expand our understanding of how and why groups engage with journalists in the continuing work of making the news, even as they enrich research on the fraught relationship between Muslims and the media.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 08:33
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/80084

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