Ideology, Polarization, and News Culture: The Secular-Islamist Tension in Turkish Journalism



  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/19401612221132716
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Communication & Mass Media Index, Communication Abstracts, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Keywords: ideology, journalism, ethnography, news culture, representation, Turkey, Egypt, TURKEY, MEDIA, STATE
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


What role does political ideology play in the production of news in a contentious cultural context? To address this question, this article investigates how Turkish Islamic conservative journalists produced and circulated representations of two dramatic uprisings in 2013: the Gezi Park protests in Turkey and the military coup in Egypt. I chose these two cases because the Islamic political bias and activism that shaped the production of news about these two events are symptomatic of the way in which Islamism as a political ideology instrumentalizes news making. Based on newsroom ethnography conducted at an Islamic national mainstream television channel in Turkey between 2011 and 2014, the article demonstrates how Islamism shapes the ways in which Islamic conservative journalists interpreted and articulated the two events in the newsroom, and represented them in news coverage. In this context, journalistic practice gains an ideological character when the journalists utilize journalistic representations as strategic instruments to advance the political agenda of Islamic conservatives against secular forces in Turkey. As the polarization between Islamic and secular groups is based on cultural distinctions, I argue that the political ideology determining journalistic practices is defined not only by party affiliations or socioeconomic class positions but also by the common cultural ways of living and thinking of journalists who work and live as members of a sociocultural group. Islamic ideology serves as a social cement that creates bonds among the IslamicTV journalists as a sociocultural group, and a degree of unity and common purpose in their professional practices.