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Beliefnet: New Media and New Understanding of the Muslim Dress Code


A study in how an old issue received new treatment in a variety of new media platforms. By Dilshad D. Ali. U.S. WISE 2009, 07/17/09 ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Beliefnet: New Media and New Understanding of the Muslim Dress Code

Beliefnet New Media and New Understanding of the
Muslim Dress Code
  • A study in how an old issue received new
    treatment in a variety of new media platforms.
  • By Dilshad D. Ali. U.S.
  • WISE 2009, 07/17/09

Background The Hijab Story
  • What are the stories/issues about Muslims that
    persistently receive media attention?
  • Is Islam a religion that promotes violence?
  • Do women have a subservient role in the faith?
  • What does the faith teach about tolerance towards
  • Whats the deal with how Muslim women dress?
  • All issues weve addressed at Beliefnet
  • Challenge Is it enough?

Background The Hijab Story
  • What are the new media platforms Beliefnet can
  • Story pages (for articles, interviews, essays)
  • Gallery pages (for slideshows)
  • Blog posts
  • Social Networking
  • Videos

Background The Hijab Story
  • Choosing a topic that would lend itself to
    content across all media platforms
  • The Hijab issue lent itself well to this. Why?
  • Many facets to this story
  • Many sub-issues
  • Hijab story is evergreen
  • Hijab story reaches across countries

Background The Hijab Story
  • How to address this topic audience
  • Do you create content for a Muslim or non-Muslim
  • Should it be explanatory, or should it go in
    depth by further exploration of various questions
    about the hijab?

Background About Beliefnet
  • About Beliefnet
  • Sites mission is to help people like you find,
    and walk, a spiritual path that will bring
    comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness.
  • What is Beliefnets audience?
  • 68 female, 32 male
  • 5.8 million unique monthly visitors across site
    and newsletters
  • 9 million name e-mail list
  • Mainly Christian readership, mid-age range

Approach The Hijab Story
  • Create a (slideshow) the hijab
  • Publish hijab essays
  • Create a hijab FAQ
  • Foster hijab-oriented discussions on our social
    networking section
  • Blog about the hijab
  • Produce hijab video

Approach Creating the Hijab Gallery (Published
in 07/2008)
Approach Types of dress and issues addressed in
Beliefnets Hijab Gallery
  • Hijab
  • The Shayla, Al-Amira, and Khimer
  • Abaya and Jilbab
  • The Chador
  • Niqab (Face Veil)
  • Burqa (or Burka)
  • Burkini
  • Hijab and Fashion
  • Hijab and Sports
  • Islam, Men, and Modest Dress

Approach Sample page from Beliefnets Hijab
  • The Hijab (Headscarf)
  • What is it? In Arabic, hijab means "barrier" or
    "cover." For non-Muslims, it's synonymous with
    the headscarf, but it can be used to describe
    total modesty. Those who cover up do so because
    of passages in the Qur'an and other Muslim
    scripture. A woman doesn't have to cover up in
    front of her husband, father, son, or other
    relatives she cannot marry. How, why, and where
    it's worn. The hijab (as a headscarf) is any
    piece of cloth pinned around the head so as to
    cover the hair, ears, neck and (usually) bosom.
    Women the world over don the hijab on top of
    their other clothing, which extends to their
    hands and feet. Any controversy? The purpose of
    modest Muslim dress is just that--to be modest.
    In the strictest definition, this means loose
    clothing that hides the shape of one's body. Some
    argue that just wearing a headscarf with
    tight-fitting outfits is not modest.
  • Continued on Slide 3 The Shayla, Al-Amira, and

Approach Sample Page from Beliefnets Hijab
  • Hijab and Fashion
  • What is it? Some women seek to combine wearing
    the hijab or other types of Muslim dress with
    stylish clothing and makeup. How, why, and where
    is it worn? Many Muslim fashion designers and
    women seek to implement the fashion of a country
    within the parameters of modest dressing. In the
    West this may mean layering a long-sleeved shirt
    inside a t-shirt or wearing a dress over pants.
    Attractive scarves are important. Others cleverly
    wear their hijab to let their earrings peek out
    or wear makeup. Any controversy? In the Muslim
    world, the battle of hijab vs. fashion is fierce.
    Critics argue that the point of modest dressing
    is not to draw attraction to one's physical self,
    which is negated by pretty headscarves, full
    coverage but stylish clothing, and makeup. Others
    say women can dress modestly and fashionably
    without overtly displaying their physical

Approach Essays
  • Beliefnet also published traditional forms of
    media essays and articles
  • Taking Off My Hijab by Andrea Useem (published
    in 08/08)
  • Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Asma Gull Hasan
    (published in 2005)

Approach Blog Posts
  • Freedom of Religion Includes Wearing Burqas
    from Windows and Doors
  • At the Beijing Olympics, the Hijab Emerges from
    Idol Chatter
  • The Burqa and the Bikini from City of Brass

Approach Social Networking
Approach Hijab Video
  • Developed script for a How a Muslim woman may
    wear the hijab video
  • Preliminary shooting in 2007
  • Video project still on hold

Challenges and Successes
  • Promotion of Content
  • Throughout the site, on Islam Channel Page
  • Links pushed in the blogs
  • Tagging of content for search engines
  • In Beliefnet newsletters
  • Sent out by PR firm to other media outlets
  • Promotion on other social networking sites

Challenges and Successes SEO
  • Key component to hijab content promotion is good
    SEO practices
  • Use of keywords
  • Google Analytics
  • Study Omniture SiteCatalyst trend reports
  • Proper tagging of content

Challenges and Successes Traffic Numbers (since
Oct. 08)
  • Gallery What is the Hijab and Muslim Dress All
    About? 42,235 PVs (3993 generated through our
  • Essay Taking Off My Hijab 5,060 PVs
  • Hijab FAQ 10,564 PVs (771 generate through our
  • Blog Posts Low PageViews
  • Soc. Net. Banning the Burqa Is Sarkozy Going too
    Far? 2742 PVs since June (success!)

Challenges Anecdotal Information
  • How successful is Beliefnet at dispelling
    misconceptions about the Hijab?
  • Many positive anecdotes
  • Many positive reader comments on site
  • Many personal compliments
  • But NO good data-taking on this
  • Competing against a vast network of unedited info
    on the Internet

Harnessing Power of New Media
  • Full-body approach to the coverage of a topic is
  • Internal linking and cross-linking of content
  • Becoming fluent in SEO practices
  • Play around with Google Analytics BEFORE
    publishing your work
  • Track your traffic, and get trend reports if
  • As always, good writing, great graphics, seamless
  • Create a buzz about your work. How?