Abstract

This study explores the content, causes and results of Orientalization practices in mainstream Turkish foreign reporting. The analysis is made of the “World” pages of the two national newspapers (Hürriyet and Habertürk), which can be considered the mainstream Turkish media. Limiting the analysis to the field of journalism, news articles published between May 5 - June 5, 2010 are analyzed. Orientalism theories and the cultural strategies of media provide the basis of analysis employed in this study. Foreign coverage in the given articles provides the samples of Orientalization discourse and practices in mainstream Turkish media. This study suggests that Orientalist perspectives are quite common in ‘foreign coverage’ in the Turkish media. Foreign news reports clearly exhibit the Orientalization ‘reflex’, which is one of the most visible legacies of Orientalist cultural strategies.

Key Words

Orientalization, mainstream Turkish media, foreign news coverage, Hürriyet, Habertürk.

Introduction

Media sociology research takes place within three main areas: media organization, message and effect. This paper considers the “message” as fundamental and focuses on media’s representational strategies. In the field of media sociology, even though its framework has been essentially formed by the problematization of media effect, media organization and the content of media are becoming important. Therefore, the methodological perspective adopted in media effect studies can also be observed in the direction and framework of studies of the content and organization. Research in media sociology has to manifest its methodological perspective within the context of the “media effect” in the interests of clarity. In this study, which depends on newspaper articles, it is assumed that, contrary to the “direct effect theory”, media do not impose opinions and attitudes on individuals, groups and communities, as was suggested by research based on “uses and gratifications”, but rather individuals get involved with media through their identity, personality, social, political, and economic status, as well as through their prior expectations. People can participate in many different communication processes in daily life while not submitting to the message even though they are exposed to it. While perceiving the message, they can handle many other social practices as well. They perceive it not in isolation but in a context. They are not passive consumers of the message. As presented in social learning theory, media has a socializing role, and as it is described in cultivation theory, those who are in contact with media can gradually make the media reality supplant the social reality, and some situations can occur in which the media symbols supplant the real world.