Dr Al-Azami’s book Religion in the Media: A Linguistic Analysis, offers a timely and insightful view of the portrayal of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the media, bringing in audience participation through its use of critical discourse analysis. Dr Al-Azami’s passion and intrigue with the topic under examination was clear, with his search for knowledge covering both print and television media to demonstrate the various ways religion is portrayed, as well as use of focus groups to offer wider perspectives.
The event offered a variety of issues to be brought to the forefront, especially with recognition that whilst television and radio are accountable for their action (especially in relation to public complaints), newspapers are not, a fact that was discussed in detail in relation to the speculative and sensationalist headlines some newspapers frequently opt for, despite the absence of factual data to substantiate claims. I found the Q&A session to offer additional insight into contemporary issues and stereotyping of religion in the media as it offered Dr Al-Azami to elaborate further his theoretical underpinnings as well as wider discussion of religion and emotions, including the impact that the portrayal of religion can and has had at the hands of one-dimensional media outlets.
Overall, I found the event a fascinating insight into the complexities and multi-dimensional characteristics of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and how their portrayal in the media is often simplified and generalist and, for this reason, I look forward to developing my own knowledge in relation to such topics.
Book Review by Jodi Thompson who is a post graduate student at Queen Mary, University of London.