Human Interest Stories in the Coverage of Syrian Refugees: A Case Study from Turkey
Keywords:Syrian refugees, Turkey, Media Frames, human interest, weaponization
This paper investigates the forms of representation of Syrian refugees in Zaman newspaper, a Turkish daily that was associated with the Gülen movement, between 2011–2015. The argument focuses on human interest stories in search for alternative forms of representation from the victimization and collectivization that are emphasized in the literature. Based on open coding of 209 news articles that were identified through frame analysis, the analysis shows that the coverage included contradictory strategies of victimization and humanization. The contradictory strategies are understood as a form of inclusive othering that encompass the initial desire to attribute human qualities to the refugees and subsequent attempt to victimize them. As the newspaper was party to a larger political conflict within Turkey, we understand the contradictory strategies and especially the specific shift in representation as part of the process of politicization. The analysis concludes that politicization limits attempts to humanize refugees.
Abdelhady, Dalia. “Framing the Syrian Refugee: Divergent Discourses in Three National Contexts.” In The Oxford Handbook of Migration Crises, edited by Cecilia Menjivar, Marie Ruiz, and Immanuel Ness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190856908.013.16. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190856908.013.16
Abdelhady, Dalia and Gina Fristedt Malmberg. “Swedish Media Representation of the Refugee Crisis: Islam, Conflict and Self-Reflection.” In Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and Interreligious Hermeneutics, edited by Emma O’Donnell, 107–36. Leiden: Brill, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004381674_008. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004381674_008
Abid, Raith Zeher, Shakila Abdul Manan, and Zuhair Abdul Amir Abdul Rahman. “‘A Flood Of Syrians Has Slowed to a Trickle’: The Use of Metaphors in the Representation of Syrian Refugees in the Online Media News Reports of Host and Non-Host Countries.” Discourse & Communication 11, no. 2 (2017): 121–40. https://doi.org/10.1177/1750481317691857. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1750481317691857
Adam, Laura Batalla. “The EU-Turkey Deal One Year On: A Delicate Balancing Act.” The International Spectator 52, no. 4 (2017): 44–58. https://doi.org/10.1080/03932729.2017.1370569. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03932729.2017.1370569
Bardhan, Nilanjana. “Transnational AIDS-HIV News Narratives: A Critical Exploration of Overarching Frames.” Mass Communication & Society 4, no. 3 (2001): 283–309. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327825mcs0403_03. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327825MCS0403_03
Bauman, Zygmunt. Modernity and Ambivalence. Cambridge: Polity, 2013.
Benson, Rodney. “What Makes for a Critical Press? A Case Study of French and US Immigration News Coverage.” The International Journal of Press/Politics 15, no. 1 (2010): 3–24. https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161209349346. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161209349346
Bhabha, Jacqueline. “Demography and Rights: Women, Children and Access to Asylum.” International Journal of Refugee Law 16, no. 2 (2004): 227–43. https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161209349346. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ijrl/16.2.227
Bucak, Çiğdem Bozdağ. “Bottom-up Nationalism and Discrimination on Social Media: An Analysis of the Citizenship Debate about Refugees in Turkey.” European Journal of Cultural Studies 23, no. 5 (2020): 712–30. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367549419869354. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1367549419869354
Caviedes, Alexander. “An Emerging ‘European’ News Portrayal of Immigration?” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 41, no. 6 (2015): 897–917. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2014.1002199. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2014.1002199
Cho, Seung Ho and Karla K. Gower. “Framing Effect on the Public's Response to Crisis: Human Interest Frame and Crisis Type Influencing Responsibility and Blame.” Public Relations Review 32, no. 4 (2006): 420–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2006.09.011. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2006.09.011
Chouliaraki, Lilie. “Symbolic Bordering: The Self-Representation of Migrants and Refugees in Digital News.” Popular Communication 15, no. 2 (2017): 78–94. https://doi.org/10.1080/15405702.2017.1281415. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15405702.2017.1281415
Chouliaraki, Lilie and Tijana Stolic. “Rethinking Media Responsibility in the Refugee ‘Crisis’: A Visual Typology of European News.” Media, Culture & Society 39, no. 8 (2017): 1162–77. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443717726163. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443717726163
Chouliaraki, Lilie and Rafal Zaborowski. “Voice and Community in the 2015 Refugee Crisis: A Content Analysis of News Coverage in Eight European Countries.” International Communication Gazette 79, no. 6–7 (2017): 613–35. https://doi.org/10.1177/1748048517727173. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1748048517727173
Dimitrova, Daniela V. and Colleen Connolly-Ahern. “A Tale of Two Wars: Framing Analysis of Online News Sites in Coalition Countries and the Arab World during the Iraq War.” The Howard Journal of Communications 18, no. 2 (2007): 153–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/10646170701309973. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10646170701309973
Doğanay, Ülkü and Hatice Çoban Keneş. “Yazılı Basında Suriyeli ‘Mülteciler’: Ayrımcı Söylemlerin Rasyonel ve Duygusal Gerekçelerinin İnşası.” Mülkiye Dergisi 40, no. 1 (2016): 143–84.
Dykstra, Tiffany A. “Assemblages of Syrian Suffering: Rhetorical Formations of Refugees in Western Media.” Language 4, no. 1 (2016).
Entman, Robert M. “Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm.” Journal of Communication 43, no. 4 (1993): 51–58. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1993.tb01304.x. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1993.tb01304.x
Erdoğan, M. Murat, Yudum Kavukçuer, and Tuğçe Çetinkaya. “Developments in Turkey: The Refugee Crisis & The Media.” Liberal Perspective: Analysis 5, Freedom Research Association. Ankara, April 2017.
Esses, Victoria M., Stelian Medianu, and Andrea S. Lawson. “Uncertainty, Threat, and the Role of the Media in Promoting the Dehumanization of Immigrants and Refugees.” Journal of Social Issues 69, no. 3 (2013): 518–36. https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12027. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12027
Figenschou, Tine Ustad and Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud. “Faces of an Invisible Population: Human Interest Framing of Irregular Immigration News in the United States, France, and Norway.” American Behavioral Scientist 59, no. 7 (2015): 783–801. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764215573256. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764215573256
Fryberg, Stephanie A., Nicole M. Stephens, Rebecca Covarrubias, Hazel Rose Markus, Erin D. Carter, Giselle A. Laiduc, and Ana J. Salido. “How the Media Frames the Immigration Debate: The Critical Role of Location and Politics.” Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 12, no. 1 (2012): 96–112. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-2415.2011.01259.x. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-2415.2011.01259.x
Gale, Peter. “The Refugee Crisis and Fear Populist Politics and Media Discourse.” Journal of Sociology 40, no. 4 (2004): 321–40. https://doi.org/10.1177/1440783304048378. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1440783304048378
Gall, Carlotta. “In Turkey’s Safe Zone in Syria, Security and Misery Go Hand in Hand.” The New York Times. 16 February 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/16/world/middleeast/syria-turkey-erdogan-afrin.html.
Goffman, Erving. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974.
Göker, Göksel and Savaş Keskin. “Haber Medyası ve Mülteciler: Suriyeli Mültecilerin Türk Yazılı Basınındaki Temsili” [News Media and Refugees: Representation of Syrian Immigrants in Turkish Press]. İletişim Kuram ve Araştırma Dergisi 41 (Fall 2015): 229–56.
Greenhill, Kelly M. Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion, and Foreign Policy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1537592711001885. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7591/9780801458668
Güney, Ülkü. “Syrian Refugees between Turkish Nationalism and Citizenship.” Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies (2021): 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/15562948.2021.1950256. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15562948.2021.1950256
d’Haenens, Leen and Mariëlle de Lange. “Framing of Asylum Seekers in Dutch Regional Newspapers.” Media, Culture & Society 23, no. 6 (2001): 847–60. https://doi.org/10.1177/016344301023006009. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/016344301023006009
Harrison, Alexander Callum. “Mediations of ‘The Refugee Crisis’: The (Ir)Reconciliation of Ideological Contradictions in Fortress Europe.” Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network 9, no. 4 (2016): 1–18. https://doi.org/10.31165/nk.2016.94.445. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31165/nk.2016.94.445
Hovden, Jan Frefrik, Hilmar Mjelde, and Jostein Gripsrud. “The Syrian Refugee Crisis in Scandinavian Newspapers.” Communications 43, no. 3 (2018): 325–56. https://doi.org/10.1515/commun-2018-0013. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/commun-2018-0013
Hoyer, Ariana. “Spanish News Framing of the Syrian Refugee Crisis.” WWU Honors Program Senior Projects 26. Bellingham, WA: Western Washington University, 2016. https://cedar.wwu.edu/wwu_honors/26/.
İçduygu, Ahmet and Evin Millet. “Syrian Refugees in Turkey: Insecure Lives in an Environment of Pseudo-Integration” Global Turkey in Europe Working Paper 13, Istituto Affari Internazionali with Istanbul Policy Center and Stiftung Mercator. Rome. August 2016. http://www.iai.it/sites/default/files/gte_wp_13.pdf.
İçduygu, Ahmet, Aysen Üstübici, Izem Aral, and Balacan Ayar. “Legitimising Settlement of Refugees: Unpacking Humanitarianism from a Comparative Perspective.” Geografie 122, no. 4 (2017): 449–75. https://doi.org/10.37040/geografie2017122040449. DOI: https://doi.org/10.37040/geografie2017122040449
Johnson, Heather L. “Click to Donate: Visual Images, Constructing Victims and Imagining the Female Refugee.” Third World Quarterly 32, no. 6 (2011): 1015–37. https://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2011.586235. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2011.586235
Kedra, Joanna, Anne Laajalahti, Mélodine Sommier, and Panu Uotila. “A Competent Participant in the New Media Landscape: Promoting an Interdisciplinary Perspective.” In Politics, Civil Society and Participation: Media and Communications in a Transforming Environment, edited by Leif Kramp, Nico Carpentier, Andreas Hepp, and Richard Kilborn, 107–19. Bremen: Edition Lumière, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323116677472l. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323116677472l
Khiabany, Gholam. “Refugee Crisis, Imperialism and Pitiless Wars on the Poor.” Media, Culture & Society 38, no. 5 (2016): 755–62. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443716655093. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443716655093
Khosravinik, Majid. “The Representation of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants in British Newspapers During the Balkan Conflict (1999) and the British General Election (2005).” Discourse & Society 20, no. 4 (2009): 477–98. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926509104024. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926509104024
King, Russel and Nancy Wood, eds. Media and Migration: Constructions of Mobility and Difference. London: Routledge, 2013. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203458549
Kirkwood, Steve. “The Humanisation of Refugees: A Discourse Analysis of UK Parliamentary Debates on the European Refugee ‘Crisis.’” Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 27, no. 2 (2017): 115–125. https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.2298. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.2298
Krishnamurti, Sailaja. “Queue-Jumpers, Terrorists, Breeders: Representations of Tamil Migrants in Canadian Popular Media.” South Asian Diaspora 5, no. 1 (2013): 139–57. https://doi.org/10.1080/19438192.2013.722386. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/19438192.2013.722386
Krzyzanowski, Michal, Anna Triandafyllidou, and Ruth Wodak. “The Mediatization and the Politicization of the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Europe.” Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies 16, no. 1–2 (2018): 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/15562948.2017.1353189. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15562948.2017.1353189
Kumsa, Martha Kuwee. “‘No! I’m Not a Refugee! The Poetics of Be-Longing among Young Oromos in Toronto.” Journal of Refugee Studies 19, no. 2 (2006): 230–55. https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/fel001. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/fel001
Lazarev, Egor and Kunaal Sharma. “Brother or Burden: An Experiment on Reducing Prejudice toward Syrian Refugees in Turkey.” Political Science Research and Methods 5, no. 2 (2017): 201–19. https://doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2015.57. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2015.57
Leudar, Ivan, Jaqueline Hayes, Jiri Nekvapil, and Johanna Turner Baker. “Hostility Themes in Media, Community and Refugee Narratives.” Discourse & Society 19, no. 2 (2008): 187–221. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926507085952. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926507085952
Malkki, Liisa. “Speechless Emissaries: Refugees, Humanitarianism and Dehistoricization.” Cultural Anthropology 11, no. 3 (1996): 377–404. https://doi.org/10.1525/can.1996.11.3.02a00050. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/can.1996.11.3.02a00050
Martin, Natalie. The Securitisation of News in Turkey, The Palgrave Macmillan Series in International Series in International Political Communication. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.
Memmi, Albert. Dominated Man: Notes Toward a Portrait. Boston: Beacon Press, 1968.
Merolla, Jennifer, S. Karthick Ramakrishnan, and Chris Haynes. “‘Illegal,’ ‘Undocumented,’ or ‘Unauthorized’: Equivalency Frames, Issue Frames, and Public Opinion on Immigration.” Perspectives on Politics 11, no. 3 (2013): 789–807. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592713002077. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592713002077
McCombs, Maxwell and Salma I. Ghanem. “The Convergence of Agenda Setting and Framing.” In Framing Public Life: Perspectives on Media and Our Understanding of the Social World, edited by Stephen D. Reese, Oscar H. Grandy, Jr. and August E. Grant, 67–81. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2001.
McCombs, Maxwell, Donald L. Shaw, and David Weaver. Communication and Democracy: Exploring the Intellectual Frontiers in Agenda-Setting Theory. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1997.
Neuman, W. Russell, Marion R. Just, and Ann N. Crigler. Common Knowledge: News and the Construction of Political Meaning. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226161174.001.0001
Olsen, Christopher, Rowan El-Bialy, Mark Mckelvie, Peggy Rauman, and Fern Brunger. “‘Other’ Troubles: Deconstructing Perceptions and Changing Responses to Refugees in Canada.” Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 18, no. 1 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-014-9983-0. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-014-9983-0
Onay-Coker, Duygu. “The Representation of Syrian Refugees in Turkey: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Three Newspapers.” Continuum 33, no. 3 (2019): 369–85. https://doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2019.1587740. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2019.1587740
Parker, Samuel. “‘Unwanted Invaders’: The Representation of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the UK and Australian Print Media.” ESharp 23, no. 1 (2015): 1–21.
Phillips, Nelson, and Cynthia Hardy. “Managing Multiple Identities: Discourse, Legitimacy and Resources in the UK Refugee System.” Organization 4 (1997): 159–85. https://doi.org/10.1177/135050849742002. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/135050849742002
Pickering, Sharon. “Common Sense and Original Deviancy: News Discourses and Asylum Seekers in Australia.” Journal of Refugee Studies 14, no. 2 (2001): 169–86. https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/14.2.169. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/14.2.169
Rajaram, Prem Kumar. “Humanitarianism and Representations of the Refugee.” Journal of Refugee Studies 15, no. 3 (2002): 247–64. https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/15.3.247. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/15.3.247
Reidy, Eric. “Briefing: A Manufactured Refugee Crisis at the Greek-Turkish Border.” The New Humanitarian. 4 March 2020. https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/analysis/2020/03/04/refugees-greece-turkey-border.
Robins, Melinda B. “‘Lost Boys’ and the Promised Land: US Newspaper Coverage of Sudanese Refugees.” Journalism 4, no. 1 (2003): 29–49. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884903004001110. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884903004001110
Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978.
Santos, Rita, Silvia Roque, and Sofia José Santos. “De-securitising ‘the South in the North’? Gendered Narratives on the Refugee Flows in the European Mediascape.” Contexto Internacional 40, no. 3 (2018): 453–77. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0102-8529.2018400300003. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1590/s0102-8529.2018400300003
Scheufele, Dietram A. “Framing as a Theory of Media Effects.” Journal of Communication 49, no. 1 (1999): 103–22. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1999.tb02784.x
Semetko, Holli A. and Patti M. Valkenburg. “Framing European Politics: A Content Analysis of Press and Television News.” Journal of Communication 50, no. 2 (2000): 93–109. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2000.tb02843.x. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2000.tb02843.x
Smith, Philip. Why War?: The Cultural Logic of Iraq, the Gulf War, and Suez. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226763910.001.0001
Stevis-Gridneff, Matina. “Greece Suspends Asylum as Turkey Opens Gates for Migrants.” The New York Times. 1 March 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/01/world/europe/greece-migrants-border-turkey.html.
Sunata, Ulaş and Esra Yıldız. “Representation of Syrian Refugees in the Turkish Media.” Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies 7, no. 1 (2018): 129–51. https://doi.org/10.1386/ajms.7.1.129_1. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/ajms.7.1.129_1
“Syria Emergency.” UNHCR. 2021. https://www.unhcr.org/syria-emergency.html.
Taş, Hakkı. “A History of Turkey’s AKP-Gülen conflict.” Mediterranean Politics, 23, no. 3 (2018): 395–402. https://doi.org/10.1080/13629395.2017.1328766. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13629395.2017.1328766
Tian, Yan and Concetta M. Stewart. “Framing the SARS Crisis: A Computer-Assisted Text Analysis of CNN and BBC Online News Reports of SARS.” Asian Journal of Communication 15, no. 3 (2005): 289–301. https://doi.org/10.1080/01292980500261605. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01292980500261605
Triandafyllidou, Anna. “A ‘Refugee Crisis’ Unfolding ‘Real’ Events and Their Interpretation in Media and Political Debates.” Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies 16, no. 1–2 (2018): 198–216. https://doi.org/10.1080/15562948.2017.1309089. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15562948.2017.1309089
“Turkey Coup: What Is Gulen Movement and What Does It Want?” BBC News. 21 July 2016. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36855846.
“Turkish police fire tear gas to raid top newspaper.” Alarabiya News. March 5, 2016. https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2016/03/05/Turkish-fire-tear-gas-to-raid-top-newspaper.
Valkenburg, Patti M., Jochen Peter, and Joseph B. Walther. “Media Effects: Theory and Research.” Annual Review of Psychology 67 (2016): 315–38. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-122414-033608. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-122414-033608
Valkenburg, Patti M., Holli A. Semetko, and Claes H. de Vreese. “The Effects of News Frames on Readers’ Thoughts and Recall.” Communication Research 26, no. 5 (1999): 550–69. https://doi.org/10.1177/009365099026005002. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/009365099026005002
van Dijk, Teun A. “The Interdisciplinary Study of News as Discourse.” In A Handbook of Qualitative Methodologies for Mass Communication Research, edited by Nicholas W. Jankowski and Klaus Bruhn Jensen, 108–20. London: Routledge, 2002.
Wright, Terence. “Moving Images: The Media Representation of Refugees.” Visual Studies 17, no. 1 (2002): 53–66. https://doi.org/10.1080/1472586022000005053. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1472586022000005053
Yavuz, M. Hakan. “A Framework for Understanding the Intra-Islamist Conflict Between the AK Party and the Gülen Movement.” Politics, Religion & Ideology 19, no. 1 (2018): 11–32. https://doi.org/10.1080/21567689.2018.1453247. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/21567689.2018.1453247
Yaylacı, Filiz Goktuna and Mine Karakuş. “Perceptions and Newspaper Coverage of Syrian Refugees in Turkey.” Migration Letters 12, no. 3 (2015): 238–50. https://doi.org/10.33182/ml.v12i3.277. DOI: https://doi.org/10.33182/ml.v12i3.277
Copyright (c) 2022 Dalia Abdelhady, Fatmanur Delioglu
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, which allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).
The content of this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.