Media and Identity Analysis

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Media and Identity Analysis

People are not born with identities – rather, they have identities crafted for them by the society to which they ‘belong'. All forms of media, from television to radio to newspapers etc. can collectively encapsulate certain groups of people and ‘label' them with any given identity, or merely infer a certain identity, by their specific portrayal of the subject covered, and the way in which they display/compose the story. Identity is spawned from difference – without cultural/political/social differences one cannot have an identity. Unfortunately, sometimes these differences are amplified and a strive for a unified nationalistic identity is forfeited when certain groups, such as the Muslim members of society, are subjectified and ‘labelled' through certain media forms, newspapers particularly.

A critically evaluative, and hopefully non-bias, study of Muslim national identity – very much the ‘image' which I'm sure the Daily Telegraph wishes us to see – reveals that, "this identity has been undergoing a process of constant evolution in Australia's constantly changing multicultural society". The Daily Telegraph is a national Australian paper predominantly written by white, non-Muslim Australians. The presence of differing affiliations and hostile provocation by the newspaper towards Muslims may give testimony to the constant changing state of Muslim identity, and hence the identity of the pictured Sheik Mohammed, rather than providing a static, and perhaps less audience-engaging media outlet. This quality – largely dynamic and at times controversial – means, however, that Muslims in the Australian society may perhaps not succeed in their struggle to achieve complete assimilation, both politically and socially, into Australian society, and more importantly, into the ‘Australian identity'.

Successful assimilation by key Muslim representative figures, such as the cleric Sheik Mohammed, is the key towards complete cultural incorporation into Australian society. This incorporation of cultures is also determined by the will of Muslim Australians to attend precisely, and hopefully promote, the task at hand. Although for the most part it may seem Muslim Australians have failed to achieve these objectives (derived initially from Australian government) so far, their struggle has not necessarily been in vain; as Muslims throughout the nation engage in ‘Australian' forms of recreation and entertainment whilst out and at home. "It is a fact that the Australian media still continues to subjectify key Muslim figures, especially post 9/11, and cover them, primarily through television news and newspaper articles in relation to negative events". How often does The Daily Telegraph run a positive front-page story on Australian Muslims?

There is still a gap that separates this dream of assimilation from reality. Hence, the Muslim figure witnesses deep and comprehensive alienation from Australian society. Strong, modern feelings of anger and cynicism have emerged over the marginalisation of the Muslim community fuelled by such ‘tabloid' stories. "The Muslim-Australian citizens in this modern day and age do not constitute a single coherent ‘group' or civil society, but rather, consist of a multiplicity of differing societies". The politically driven Muslim activist groups, to which the Daily Telegraph infers the Sheik Mohammed may belong, are only one of these Muslim sub-societies and are by far in the minority. Local and regional Muslim identities are tending to grow in their own separate communities at the expense of the collective Muslim-Australian nationalist identity. All of the existing nation-states now seem to function independently of one another and rarely in terms of Muslim national interests.

The Daily Telegraph has been around for some time, both preying on and shaping the public's emotions with entertainment-derived articles targeting the ‘average Australian...
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