What did 9/11 mean for U.S. media coverage of Muslims and Islam?

In this article, we focus on broad patterns and trends in the coverage of Muslims to better understand the effect of 9/11. We show that key changes in the content of coverage were both nearly instantaneous and persistent. In particular, 9/11 dramatically tightened the connection in US newspaper reporting between Muslims, on the one hand, and terrorism and extremism, on the other hand. Moreover, the attacks also brought about an enduring increase in the volume of newspaper articles mentioning Muslims and Islam. These trends are evident not just in leading national titles such as the Times and the Post, but also across a range of more locally focused newspapers, including tabloids. On the other hand, although coverage also became more negative in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, this negative shock was comparatively short-lived, and the average tone of articles about Muslims and Islam had returned to pre-9/11 levels by the end of 2001. Sadly, those pre-9/11 levels were already systematically far more negative than for other minority groups in the United States.