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Nadia Haq

Dr Nadia Haq

Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow

School of Journalism, Media and Culture

Overview

I am a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow. 

My current multi-method, multidisciplinary research investigates how British media audiences in the guise of active publics hold the media to account for discriminatory and divisive coverage against marginalised, minority communities through digital activism. This work fills a critical void in audience studies by exploring the motivations and methods of everyday individuals challenging influential media institutions that shape their socio-political realities in today's digital era of disinformation and polarisation.  The research is interdisciplinary between the fields of journalism and public sociology to provide a ‘real-life’ investigation of the interplay between individual agency and power structures.  

Before this, my doctoral research sought to understand the enduring reproduction of negative Muslim representations in British press coverage and how spaces for challenging these representations were made possible. Using qualitative interviews with journalists, my thesis uncovered the contradictions journalists faced when powerfully embedded ideas about their own ideological role in an egalitarian, liberal society were confronted with the anti-Muslim bias in the press industry they worked for. I was awarded an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship to publish this research, including my upcoming monograph ‘Media Bias and Muslims in Britain’ as part of the Routledge Research in Journalism series.

I am in the process of developing an online toolkit for local journalism—a resource designed to offer guidance and support for both local journalists and Muslim communities in navigating the complexities of reporting on stories involving Muslims and Islam within the local context.

My research interests are interdisciplinary and take place at the intersection between sociology and media studies. My broader research interests include journalism (legacy and digital); audiences; media discourse; multiculturalism and citizenship; race, ethnicity and religion; social movements; ideology; political and social contestation; social research methods.

I am also interested in exploring wider questions about the contestation of belonging, identity and citizenship across both legacy and digital media.

I have worked as an international business journalist based in the Middle East for nearly a decade and also for several years in political communications and equality policy. 

Engagement

My research aims to address social inequalities and media bias against marginalised groups. As an academic with considerable professional experience in the field (journalism, political communications/public affairs, and charity and voluntary sector), I am committed to the development of collaborative research to ensure a wider impact beyond academia.

Online Local Journalism Toolkit for Reporting on Muslims and Islam

My recent research has demonstrated how normalised representations of Muslims as the problematic outsiders of British society have become in the national press. In comparison, the experiences of local journalists reflect how it is possible to report on stories in ways that include, rather than exclude, Muslims as an integral part of British society (see my related article in The Conversation here).

Nurturing equal and mutually respectful relationships between local journalists and Muslim communities is key to this practice. There is, however, a considerable lack of trust from Muslim communities towards journalists with local journalists struggling to access these communities due to this distrust. This cycle perpetuates the exclusion of diverse Muslim perspectives in local news, enabling the dominant exclusionary national media narrative about Muslims to continue unchallenged. 

I am currently working on the development of a web-based toolkit as a direct intervention to disrupt this cycle.The toolkit challenges the anti-Muslim media bias by targeting local journalism as a means of promoting more inclusive, fairer representation of Britain’s diverse Muslim communities. It also raises the voices of Muslim communities by empowering them to influence media narratives about them. This project promises to have a positive impact due to the significant reach of local newspapers, with more than 40 million people in the UK reading local news every month.

The online toolkit is designed to offer an interactive and user-friendly experience for local journalists and Muslim communities across the UK. Local journalists can access tailored advice for fairer reporting on Muslim-related stories and enhance their collaboration skills with local Muslim communities. For Muslims, it provides guidance on fostering positive relationships with journalists and media skills development. The toolkit also acts as a ‘one-stop-shop' bringing together existing resources and guides on reporting on Muslims or media engagement in one convenient, easily accessible site. 

Work on the toolkit is underway with several key stakeholders already involved in the planning of the toolkit including Muslim groups and media organisations.

Seperately, I have shared my expertise to influence policy with different media institutions (including press regulators IMPRESS and IPSO) and have provided guidance to community organisations on how to engage effectively with the media. I also contributed written evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Religion in the Media's Inquiry into religious literacy in print and broadcast media, receiving a special mention in report.

Academic Engagement 

  • Member, ESRC Peer Review College. 
  • Reviewer: JournalismJournal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
  • Review Editor in Race and Ethnicity (Frontiers in Sociology)
  • Member, British Sociological Association
  • Member, Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association (MeCCSA)
  • Member, International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)
  • Member British Academy Early Career Researcher Network  

Specialisms

  • Communication and media studies
  • Culture, representation and identity
  • Audience Theory
  • digital activism