Our case study focuses on portrayal of Islam by the mainstream media before, during, and after the events of September 11, 2001. Today there is still heated discussion over what bias Western media in particular has in its depiction of Islam as a whole. An excellent site with insight from an Islamic point of view is http://www.MeccaCentric.com which contains many videos of lectures on the subject. Another wonderful resource is http://www.cair.com/ the official website for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Before the attacks on the World Trade Centers, Islam typically received little media attention in the United States, and was usually treated stereotypically as a result of historical conflicts and controversial practices. Very few people took notice as Islam was not seen as having much relevance to the United States.
Since 9/11, Islam has received much more news coverage in America, which has led to an increased understanding of the religion, but the big questions are how fair is the coverage and whether or not there is too much emphasis given to the radical elements of Islam. In 2006 the documentary "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" was released and shown at some 30 college campuses in the United States amid some protest. In addition, a six-part series based on the film was run by a major news network, Fox News, in November 2006. Although they made it clear that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, the worry of prejudice and reprisal was definitely present in the wake of their showing. You can watch an abridged preview version of "Obsession" here: http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=obsession&sitesearch= (it's the fourth one down).
Although the prevalent view is that there is an anti-Islamic slant to the Western media, many dispute this, and the matter is far from settled, among Muslims as well as among others. For an opposing view from a former Muslim, visit http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/188384.php
For a supporting view from a group not affiliated with Islam, see http://mediamatters.org/issues_topics/attacks_on_muslims_islam
At the very least, we in the West have been exposed to inconsistent takes on the Islamic religion, and breaking through the fog is important. Not only does this issue affect how we view Islam and the media today, but it also has potentially far reaching consequences in light of current U.S. foreign affairs. An understanding of the relationship between Islam and the media is crucial for an accurate view of the world today.