CHICAGO, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A study evaluating breaking news stories found Muslims are overrepresented on U.S. television as perpetrators of domestic terrorism, while black people are underrepresented as both criminals and victims.
The study, by University of Illinois communication professor Travis Dixon, was conducted between 2008 and 2012 and evaluated 146 episodes of news programs that focus on breaking news.
The episodes evaluated included ABC World News Tonight; CBS Evening News; NBC Nightly News; PBS NewsHour; Anderson Cooper/Anderson Cooper 360, CNN Newsroom Live and The Situation Room on CNN; Fox News Live and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News; MSNBC Live; and Univision Ultimate Hora and Noticero Univision on Univision.
Of the stories about domestic terrorist suspects, 81 percent were Muslim. FBI data collected from the same time period, though, indicates six percent of suspects were actually Muslim. Dixon said white supremacists were more likely to take part in domestic terrorism than Muslims during the time period.
Dixon said he expected black people to be overrepresented as perpetrators of crimes and the opposite to be true of white people.
"African Americans were significantly much less likely to be depicted as violent crime perpetrators on network and cable news (19 percent) than to be arrested according to crime reports (39 percent)," he wrote. "Similarly, ... African Americans were less likely to be portrayed as homicide victims on network and cable programs (22 percent) than to be homicide victims according to crime reports (48 percent).
White people, the study found, were just as likely to be victims or perpetrators of crimes in the news as they are in real life.
Dixon said data from his study supported his hypothesis "that Latinos would be overrepresented as undocumented immigrants."
He found that among immigrants described on those programs as undocumented, 99 percent were identifiable as Latino. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 78.8 percent of undocumented immigrants in 2012 were from Latin American countries.