The paper probes aspects of the seemingly stereotypical perception in North American media of the Muslim and Arab worlds, their societies and peoples, by focusing on key dimensions of the representation of Arab and Muslim people and their places. To this end, four daily newspapers (The Columbus Dispatch, The Chicago Tribune, The Plain Dealer and The Los Angeles Times) have been surveyed systematically for a specific period of time, post 9/11, 2001 down to the eve of the U.S. war on Iraq in early March 2003.
The study shows that the discourse on Muslim/Arab people and their visual representation are implicated in and affected by much wider political discourses and thus saturated with geopolitical import and insinuation. The investigation made focused on use of numerous examples from Iraq during the prolonged build-up to the March 2003 attack. The study offers empirical findings to corroborate the thesis that newspapers enjoy extraordinary freedom to frame and bend and distort the ways in which information is reported, interpreted and ‘packaged.’ Central to my thesis here is the examination of what I have called the “editorial arrangement” engaged in by newspaper editors in reporting on Muslim/Arab-related issues. It was within this type of packaging of ‘visuals’ in concrete particular that Muslim and Arab people and places are misrepresented.