Politics, power, and performativity in the newsroom: an ethnography of television journalism in Turkey

Asik O.

Media, Culture and Society, vol.41, no.5, pp.587-603, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 41 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/0163443718799400
  • Journal Name: Media, Culture and Society
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.587-603
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


© The Author(s) 2018.How do political divisions within the newsroom shape negotiations around news production? This article addresses this question by examining how Turkish journalists, in their discourse and practices, represent Kurds and Arabs when interpreting and discussing current events related to the Kurdish question and the Arab Spring. The study draws upon a year of ethnographic fieldwork, and interviews conducted in 2011 and 2012, in the newsrooms of two mainstream national television channels in Turkey. It reveals how journalists with opposing political beliefs perform their representational practices by continuously modifying them according to the opinions of managerial boards. In negotiations on the portrayal of Kurds and Arabs in news reports, journalists mask or modify ‘undesired’ aspects of their individual interpretations to fit them into a dominant news frame. However, they can also challenge that frame. Based upon the observation of such negotiations, this article advances a novel definition of journalistic performance as a purposeful, strategic, and staged form of symbolic communication: an essential tool for navigating ideological conflicts in the power structure of the newsroom.