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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. Beliefnet: New Media and New Understanding of the Muslim Dress Code. Background: The Hijab Story.

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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

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

background the hijab story
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 non-Muslims?
    • What’s the deal with how Muslim women dress?
      • All issues we’ve addressed at Beliefnet
      • Challenge: Is it enough?
background the hijab story3
Background: The Hijab Story
  • What are the new media platforms Beliefnet can offer?
    • Story pages (for articles, interviews, essays)
    • Gallery pages (for slideshows)
    • Blog posts
    • Social Networking
    • Videos
background the hijab story4
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 story5
Background: The Hijab Story
  • How to address this topic – audience
    • Do you create content for a Muslim or non-Muslim audience?
    • Should it be explanatory, or should it go in depth by further exploration of various questions about the hijab?
background about beliefnet
Background: About Beliefnet
  • About Beliefnet

Site’s mission is to help people like you find, and walk, a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness.

  • What is Beliefnet’s 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
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 types of dress and issues addressed in beliefnet s hijab gallery
Approach: Types of dress and issues addressed in Beliefnet’s 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 beliefnet s hijab gallery
Approach: Sample page from Beliefnet’s Hijab Gallery
  • 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 Khimer »
approach sample page from beliefnet s hijab gallery11
Approach: Sample Page from Beliefnet’s Hijab Gallery
  • 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 attributes.
approach essays
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
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 hijab video
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
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 (Facebook)
challenges and successes seo
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
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 newsletter
  • Essay: “Taking Off My Hijab” – 5,060 PVs
  • Hijab FAQ: 10,564 PVs (771 generate through our newsletter)
  • Blog Posts – Low PageViews
  • Soc. Net. Banning the Burqa: Is Sarkozy Going too Far? 2742 PVs since June (success!)
challenges anecdotal information
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
Harnessing Power of New Media
  • Full-body approach to the coverage of a topic is best
  • 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 possible
  • As always, good writing, great graphics, seamless editing
  • Create a buzz about your work. How?