Eight in 10 people (83 per cent) in the UAE would like to see ‘more quality coverage’ of religion in the media to break stereotypes, a new international survey has shown.
The poll — commissioned by the Faith and Media Initiative (FAMI) and conducted by market research company HarrisX —also showed that 78 per cent of UAE respondents actively seek religious content in the media.
Some 67 per cent of those surveyed in the UAE feel that there should be more coverage of complex religious issues.
Dritan Nesho, CEO of HarrisX, said the poll shows the prevailing importance of religious identity for many globally, similar to how race and gender are viewed.
"After the Cold War, cultural self-identification started to move more towards this religious identification on a global scale. Religion also remains a driver of global politics, business decisions and culture,” Nesho said.
The faith and media survey— which covered almost 10,000 people in 18 countries, ranging from the UK and the US to Singapore, China, Egypt and Mexico — found that 56 per cent wanted greater coverage of religion worldwide.
Besides taking into account the views of media consumers, the poll also involved journalists and editors.
The data reveals that faith and religion are a core element of personal identity globally, with 82 percent of respondents viewing themselves as “faithful, religious or spiritual," said Nesho. "Yet the journalists with whom we spoke to believe that faith and religious coverage are becoming increasingly marginalised due to everything from newsroom economics to fears of 'getting it wrong’.
"Ultimately, the research points to a clear global deficit in coverage, treatment and quality of understanding of faith and religion in modern media." Nesho added.
Brooke Zaugg, vice-president of FAMI, hoped that the results of the study could be used as “a springboard for positive change”.
"These new findings shine a light on the urgent need to offer faith leaders improved access to the power and reach of the news media, and media a direct line to faith leaders for enhanced understanding of beliefs in the context of modern society.
"By joining forces, we can better serve humanity by ensuring a more accurate, balanced representation of all faiths in journalism and entertainment worldwide,” said Zaugg.
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