Each era and cultural climate has its own words. These words do not emerge by themselves. The struggles of social power, the economic policies of that period, the dynamics of sociological and cultural change determine the emergence of these words and the intensities and shifts in their meanings.
The power appears in a variety of forms in each period. These emerging forms of power put forward the words that are used, preferred and spread during that period. It is possible for the power to become hegemonic as soon as people use these words continually in their daily lives. Each time the words are repeated, the existence of power is reinforced. However, the situation is not that simple at all. Every hegemony gives birth to a counter hegemony. In this respect, those word(s) that legitimize each hegemony could happen to have new connotations that would weaken that hegemony.
George Orwell called the ideal language of the surveillance state in his novel 1984 as “Newspeak”. Turkey’s acceptable character nowadays is “new” as well, in the eyes of the power. While each government absolutizes its own existence, it identifies all kinds of actions it carries out as “new” in order to keep both its identity and quality separate from its predecessors. Therefore, today’s Turkey is mostly defined as “the New Turkey”. Such assertive arguments and promising commitments like “there won’t be any military tutelage in the new Turkey, there will be freedom of religion in the new Turkey, advanced democracy will be dominant in the new Turkey” have brought new words to our lives. Indeed, these words are not actually new. Although they are the words we already know, they have gained new meanings and intensifications.
The words, phrases and noun phrases such as “reputation ”,“loyalty ”,“nobody takes offence”, “disposition”, “sincerity”, “seeing the big picture”, “meaningful”, “superior mind”, “shared wisdom” and many others have undergone new meaning shifts and intensifications that will strengthen the hegemony of power. Undoubtedly, the widespread use of new meanings of these words and their becoming known among the public is realized by the means of communication. While these and similar words are used to describe any event, situation or to frame any event by any political leader, they could go beyond being ordinary and innocent tools and become almost weapons. These words are not only used to describe the event or situation, but also serve to target the opponents, minorities, foreigners in the social sphere and to stigmatize the different ones with hateful expressions and thus to intimidate groups that do not submit to power.
This study has been prepared as a guide for journalists. Each power has had its own journalists, writers, artists, in short, its organic intellectuals, who have legitimized the repressive language of that power. In fact, those who are in power gain some of their legitimacy by means of the consent produced by those organic intellectuals. The place of journalism and the journalist in modern democracies is vital. Yet, the journalist functions as a supervisory mechanism for a good and proper governing in modern democracies. It does so through its force to create public opinion by informing the public about what is happening. Contrary to the function of those journalists whose mission is limited to the propaganda of the power, the real journalists provide objective information to the general public. A journalist who prioritizes public information, no matter what his political view is, does not define any social group with hateful words. On the contrary, he creates his news objectively depending entirely on the facts. This is one of the most fundamental norms of journalism, evolving through the historical experiences, and the journalist derives his credibility from these norms.
In this study, in the framework of these journalistic norms, words that are problematic to use for journalists while preparing the news are selected. While selecting the words, both the political and cultural climate of Turkey and the current practices of and trends in journalism were taken into consideration. In this context, it is necessary to specify the methods and criteria applied during the selection of words and concepts.
In our study in which we examine hate speech in the media and the words, concepts and phrases that are used for it, examples from pro-government media, mainstream media and opposition media were selected. During the research where total of 75 news texts were examined, including Sabah, Akşam, Yeni Şafak, Star and Akit as pro-government; Hürriyet and Milliyet as mainstream; and Birgün, Evrensel and Yeni Yaşam as the opposition media, ten newspapers were selected. The news texts taken from the abovesaid newspapers that were published between January and June 2019 were determined by using the purposeful (monographic) sampling method.
In the news texts examined, the continuity of anti-Semitic and sexist discourse was observed especially in the pro-power media; xenophobia and the humiliation of the leaders and people of neighbouring countries are observed to be concentrated in Turkey’s cross-border operations. In this sense, xenophobia and humiliation of neighbouring people are discontinuous; while sexism, misogyny and anti-Semitism are continuously encountered in the pro-government media. The reason for this could be stated as the increase in the authoritarianization of power after 2016. The fact that the AKP’s beginning to exercise its power with pressure and force has strengthened the language of the pro-AKP media as well as the language used by the government. It is possible to trace becoming such strident in the anti-Semitist attitude of political Islam, the trademark of power, and its general tendency towards misogyny.
In the mainstream and opposition media, mostly from left-socialist perspectives, that were analysed in accordance with the methodology of the study, hostility towards refugees, sexism and misogyny, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and insulting the rulers and the people of neighbouring countries are less observed compared to the pro-government newspapers. Of course, one can make a distinction here as well, as there are differences between mainstream and opposition media in terms of using the discourses mentioned above. The opposition of left-socialist-oriented newspapers and the opposition of secular-nationalist newspapers towards government emerge on different axes. This differentiation occurs most often in the language towards refugees. For example, secular-nationalist newspapers codify Syrian asylum seekers as indirect responsible, if not directly, of all economic-based problems, and base their opposition to the government in this way. However, the left-socialist newspapers approach the asylum-seeker and refugee problem from a human rights-based perspective and express the economic problems as the government’s incompetence. It is of course possible to trace this attitude in the choice of words that produce xenophobia and hate speech towards refugees.
According to the results of the surveys, it was observed that the use of words containing hatred, reproducing xenophobia and stigmatizing the perpetrators of the news with sexist and racist rhetoric was more common in the pro-government media organizations. The purposeful sampling method used in the scanning has also been useful in understanding why such words are more intensely used in pro-government media organs. Yet, the purposeful sampling method is preferred when one or more special cases that meet certain criteria or have certain characteristics are desired to be studied. During the scanning, the focus was not solely on the news about a particular event, situation or person. On the contrary, it was based on with which words that the selected news and situations are defined / presented by the selected newspaper (s). In the surveys conducted within this framework, priority was given to the incidents which was apparent due to the political approach of the newspaper in order to choose hate words used in defining the event. Because the events / news through which the pro-government or mainstream newspapers contribute to the production of hate speech were already accepted as given at the beginning of the study. The purposefulness in the selection of the sampling results from this given acceptance.
One of the basic ethical codes of the journalism profession is the objective, balanced, careful and fair approach of journalists to news events. Compliance with these ethical codes can easily be understood from the words used by journalists in describing the event. The journalist has a heavy responsibility since s/he is the first one to learn an incident, not all the people have a chance to know it and the journalist is obliged to inform the public fairly. A journalist may even endanger the lives of some individuals or groups if s/he does not act carefully and fairly in describing any event. Any inappropriate word that a journalist chooses to report an incident can even lead to major social conflicts. Turkey’s history is filled with such negative examples. Therefore, we hope that this study will be a functional and useful guide for responsible journalists.
Tezcan Durna, Vahdet Mesut Ayan, Mustafa Aksoy. (Translation: Ceren Özcan)
A Dictionary of Ethics for Journalists
Afghan: It is used to describe people from Afghanistan. In recent years, a heavy influx of refugees to Turkey has been continuing due to the war in this country. Although predominantly Syrian refugees are known, Afghans are one of the ethnic groups adversely affected by asylum-seekers’ problems. If they are involved in criminal cases, their ethnic origin is added to the crime. Adding their ethnic origin in this way is problematic in terms of journalistic ethics. Because presenting an ethnic group in a way identical to certain crimes could instigate hatred and lynch against that group (For example: Afghan murderer, Afghan harasser, Afghan burglar)
Agent: This word, meaning spy, is often used for dissident journalists in news texts without any concrete evidence. The word contains a feature that points someone as a target. In Turkish news, this word, without evidence, is also used in the sense of “traitor” for the opponents of government who work on behalf of other countries. It is ethically problematic to use this word for any person both in diplomatic and legal terms since it serves for a purpose of pointing someone as a target.
Agent-terrorist: A noun phrase which implies that the officials coming from other countries in order to leak information are the members of various terrorist organizations. These people are claimed to gather secret information both on behalf of the terrorist organization and the country s/he Works for. Recently, it is observed that this word has been commonly used for foreign journalists. E.g.: The noun phrase which is used for the German journalist Deniz Yücel who has Turkish origins by Turkish government.
Armenian: Historically, it’s the ethnic name of the non-Muslim citizens the Ottoman Empire had left to the Republic of Turkey. However, in order to justify the great massacre of this ethnic group while being deported from the Anatolian lands during the First World War, the Ottoman-Turkish state spread the claim that Armenian elements betrayed the state and turned this claim into the official ideology of the state. Because of this historical burden, Turkey’s conservative-nationalist groups consider being Armenian and being a “traitor” equal. Therefore, while giving information about the perpetrator of any news, it is problematic to draw attention to the fact that the perpetrator is an Armenian and turns the perpetrator of the news into a target. (For example: Excuse me s/he is Armenian, Armenian offspring, Traitor Armenian)
Arrogant: This concept, having the lexical meaning “someone behaving disrespectfully”, is used in the political jargon to discredit the criticism of representatives of foreign countries, or the opposition people or groups. It is problematic to use such concepts of moral value judgment in the news language. (Example: Arrogant Belgian, Arrogant Dutch)
Atheist: It’s the name given to those who don’t believe in any creator, and therefore any religion. Conservative religious section, generally interprets this expression as irreligious, godless and thus lacking moral values. Through this interpretation the word leaves its neutral meaning and turns out to be an element of hatred, exclusion, discrimination and enmity. Its use in this manner is problematic in terms of journalistic language since it leads the person defines to become a completely hostile target.
Baby killer: This noun phrase makes reference to the terrorist acts carried out by PKK, the armed wing of the Kurdish political movement in Turkey, for their political ambitions. The statement attributed to the PKK’s imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan, implies that this armed terrorist organization can target anyone without regardless of their age, children or the elderly, for political purposes. The use of such an extreme negative expression in defining the terrorist organization and its leader is incompatible with the values of objective journalism.
Barbarian: It is used to describe merciless non-civilized people or groups who have very cruel behaviour. However, since ancient Rome, the word has also been used for the people outside of Rome, and has often been instrumentalized to exploit and occupy a particular civilization or community in order to “civilize” it. This statement should not be used for any society / community on the assumption that the cultural values of each society and the practices of solving problems in daily life may be different. It should be kept in mind that the use of this word for any person or group can lead to legitimization of political domination and exploitation.
Being Turkish /Being from Turkey: People who live in Turkey and have Turkish ethnic identity. Being from Turkey is a more inclusive phrase, it refers to all ethnic identities living in this region, rather than emphasizing ethnic identities. The use of the Turkish name in the news, unless specifically required, can lead to nationalist emphasis. Therefore, the use of this expression at haphazard is problematic in terms of the language of journalism.
Betrayal: This word, the noun for the adjective betrayer, is claimed for the person or groups that are alleged to behave contrary to the salvation of the society in which they live. Coming from the verb “to betray”, it usually appears as a vague accusative expression against people or groups that are ideologically different. (Example: Academics for Peace, who warned the Turkish Republic that used disproportionate violence to the civilians with a petition, were accused of treason by the President of that time)
Betrayer: It means the traitor. See the word treason. It is problematic to use in the news language since it is an adjective that states value judgement.
Bigot: This word, meaning someone who desires to spread to all society the religious dogma that tends to be repressive, has a function of deepening social polarization in Turkey. It is problematic to use such value-laden adjectives in the news language.
Blasphemer: This word, meaning “someone who doesn’t believe in God’s existence or who is relentless”, is used to describe nonbeliever or non-Islamic communities. In this respect, it serves to hostilize and target different religious beliefs. It is a negative adjective that deepens social polarization, damages public peace and violates freedom of religion and conscience. It is problematic to use in the news language.
Blasphemy: This word, meaning “to say bad words or to deny the existence and unity of God”, has a function that serves the goal of ignoring or even eliminating the behaviour and faith of different religious beliefs. Extreme “religious” groups define many behaviours (dancing, drinking alcohol) that do not comply with religious rules as blasphemy and argue that such behaviours should be prohibited. It is problematic to use such an expression in the news language as it has a function that fosters religious discrimination and undermines the ideal of living together.
Blood / Bloody: This word is often used to describe war, murder and violent events. It is problematic to use such phrases in the news language since defining any case as “blood/bloody” would spread panic and fear.
Cleansing: An expression used for counter-terrorism operations. It legitimizes disproportionate violence and is often used to describe “counter-terrorism” operations in South-eastern Turkey. This metaphor, which is used especially when defining the operations carried out against civilian targets, legitimizes the violence carried out to make the targets ineffective due to ideological, ethnic, religious and many other differences by coding the them as unnecessary and harmful creatures. The use of this metaphor, which is commonly used by the state and security authorities, in the language of journalism is problematic as it triggers war and conflict.
Conscienceless: It is an adjective that means “without conscience, cruel”. It is often used to describe the perpetrators of brutal murders and the states and troops that commit disproportionate violence in wars or armed conflicts. Since it is an adjective that includes value judgment, its use in the news language is problematic in terms of the principle of objectivity.
Coward: It is a word that means heartless, quickly feared and contains patriarchal implications as “being fearless” is a feeling intrinsic to the masculinity. Using the word, which also has a function that indirectly nourishes nationalist, militarist and sexist discourses, produces multifaceted insults and discrimination for any person or group. It is problematic to use such negative value-laden words in the news language in terms of journalism ethics.
Cruel: It is wrong to use this word that has the lexical meaning “someone acting unjust and relentless, merciless”, in the news texts. The word is very subjective and causes the reader to prejudice about events or people. (Example: Cruel Assad, Cruel Israel)
Crusader: It is an expression that reminds of the historical Crusades. This statement, used by the conservative-Muslim groups who believe that Western states still maintain that “warrior mentality” to spread the Christian religion, is problematic because it obviously contains xenophobia.
Cutthroat: This adjective, which means a murderer and a ruthless person, is often used to identify the murder suspects in the news language. If the perpetrator of the murder is still on trial and s/he has not proven guilty of the offense yet, this person should be called a “murder suspect,” and if s/he has proven guilty of the offense, s/he should be described as a “murder offender”. It is problematic to use adjectives such as cutthroat in the news language.
Degenerate: It is a negative adjective that means “someone ill-known, illegitimate and with unclear ancestry”. It is often used as an insult and implies the unqualification and unfaithfulness of the target person. It is problematic to use in the language of journalism because it arouses hatred towards the target person.
Deviant: This word, meaning “the one who lost her/his faith” particularly in the religious jargon, is used by the conservative-religious segment of society to target and stigmatize nonbelievers, atheists and homosexuals. Therefore, it is one of the most common words that is known to be spreading hate speech. The use of the word in the news language, which implies that it is legitimate to act violently against the people and groups it targets, is problematic because it contains value judgment.
Dirty Game: It is used for the campaign swing of the Nation Alliance. It implies the cooperation of Nation Alliance with external powers. On this occasion, all political activities of the opposition to the government in power are made suspicious and made target. It contains discrimination and targets the people or groups it defines.
Dishonest: It is an insult and blasphemy word that means “dishonourable and servile”. It leads to the humiliation of the people or groups that it targets by accusing them of being deprived of such human values. The use of such expressions as an adjective for any person or group is problematic since they would cause insult, humiliation, and targeting.
Drunkard: In Turkey this word, meaning drunk and dipsomaniac, is used by conservative religious section to describe the secular sections who have distance with religion and therefore neglect the prohibition of alcohol by religion. It is problematic to use this word in the news language, which legitimizes the attack on lifestyles and religious beliefs/disbeliefs.
Enemy: This word is used for the person who has infinite hostility towards someone else or for the states that are fighting against each other. The use of the word “enemy” for one of the warring factions during the war is problematic in terms of objective journalism since it jeopardizes a peaceful language and makes negotiation impossible. Instead of fostering hostility between the parties fighting, it is necessary to establish a language that emphasizes the parties’ agreement zones for a peaceful journalistic language.
Eradicate: It means to make something unreproducible forever, leaving no residues. In Turkey, it is generally used by the mainstream media for terrorism, and some illnesses. However, once this phrase is used for terrorism, it could legitimate excessive violence that can address not only terrorist elements but also civilians. As this expression can be used as the legitimator of unlawfulness depending on the context, it is more appropriate not to use it in the news language. (For example: Turkish army eradicated terrorists on Mount Gabar)
Fagot: It means passive gay man. In slang, it is used to insult all gay men. Using it in the news language in this way can lead to defamation, exclusion and pointing someone as a target, and its use is problematic.
Figurant: It is used for people who are claimed to be directed by some internal or external forces and not to have their own will. It also means a puppet whose behaviour is directed by others. It is also used to target people who claim their political rights but are identified in this way to counteract their action. It is problematic to use it in the news language since it’s a value-laden word.
Foreign powers: The word, meaning “the one who does evil by concealing her/himself” is often used to describe the diplomatic activities of foreign countries and the actions and meetings of dissidents. It leads to making all the activities of Western countries, claimed to be using the dissidents inside the country, doubtful and produces xenophobia through it. It is problematic to use in the news language since it creates suspicion about the names or groups that it defines and leads to pointing as targets in this aspect.
Gay: A man who has romantic and/or sexual attraction to persons of the same sex, homosexual. If this statement is not necessary for the subject of news, using it in the news can generate discrimination against the person it defines. Just as the noun phrases like “male singer”, “female singer” are not used if any heterosexual singer, it is not right to use the phrase “gay singer” for a gay one. Such expressions deepen exclusion and discrimination.
Giaour: Having the dictionary meaning of “non-Muslim person or someone without any mercy”, the concept is used to describe the minority groups in Turkey or to define non-Muslim countries. The word, containing value judgments, is problematic to use in the news language since it causes hatred and hostility towards the people or groups it defines.
Guerrilla: It is the name given to the armed forces who realize their political aims with an armed organization. Since they lack the authority to use weapon officially and systematically, they carry out armed actions at regular intervals. The armed wing of the Kurdish political movement in Turkey is defined in that name by the movement itself. On the other hand, the official institutions of the state call the armed members of this organization “terrorist”. Both namings are contrary to the values of objective journalism. “Guerrilla” appears as an expression that affirms the armed actions of the Kurdish armed movement. The definition of “terrorist” in the official naming of the state, on the other hand, adopts an attitude that completely take sides with the state in the dual conflict and results in a violation of the principle of objectivity of journalism. Instead, the term” armed wing of the Kurdish political movement” can be used.
Godless: Literally meaning “faithless”, and having “without mercy and conscious” connotations, this word incites religious discrimination. It is problematic to use it since both its meanings are loaded with negative values and cause hatred towards the targeted person.
Heathen: This word, used to describe people who don’t believe in any creator or used to mean “merciless”, incites religious discrimination and social polarization through it. Since it is also used to define deists or atheists, it leads to the exclusion of different belief systems. It is problematic to use such words that undermine the freedom of religion and conscience in the news language.
Hero: This word, which is usually used in news texts after the the security forces who lost their lives in armed conflicts, reproduces war and violence while blessing the death with the subjective meaning it contains. Although it does not have a religious reference like the concept of martyr, it has a reference that justifies and encourages violence and conflict.
Hitman: Used for people who kill people in exchange for money and do that as a profession. In addition to this literal meaning, it has also become popular to use this word for the journalists in Turkey in recent years who make news targeting someone by the information they have gathered from secret government sources. It is a clear offense that some journalists accuse others for the news they made by using open-ended data. The use of the expression, especially for journalists, makes everyone whose name could be mentioned in any news an open target.
Homo: The abbreviation of homosexual and its use in daily language. Its use both humiliates the people or groups it targets and causes hatred and hostility against a certain sexual identity.
Homosexual: A person who has romantic and/or sexual attraction to persons of the same sex. In terms of news language, it is better to use this word if it is necessary to give information about the sexual orientation of the person who is the subject of the news. However, it is problematic to use this expression to identify the person despite there is no need to provide information about the person’s sexual orientation. (Wrong: Gay fashion designer spoke. True: Fashion designer said that he never hid his homosexual identity.)
Ill-gotten: The use of this word in the language of news, meaning the food or behavior prohibited by the religion as they are against the religious rules, can foster religious discrimination. (See the title of Sin)
Immoral: Meaning someone who doesn’t recognize social rules and values, this word is generally used in Turkey to identify the ones who behave contrary to social roles. Since it involves a moral value judgement, it is used as an adjective to insult the targeted person. Therefore, using it in news language or in headlines to describe the subject of any news is incompatible with the journalistic ethical principles.
Impudent: This word, meaning “someone who has formed the habit of departing from the code of conduct and honour and doesn’t know how to behave anywhere”, is often used by the spokespersons of the ruling party to describe the opponents who criticize them. It is used to explain both that the criticisms are unjust and that the critic(s) do not have the right and authority to do so. It is a statement that reinforces the claim that inequality between people is “normal”, since it leads to a hierarchy between the critic and the criticized, and is contrary to the principle of equal citizenship in the constitution. It is problematic to use because it is contrary to the principle of objective journalism.
Instigation: It means confusion, incompatibility and restlessness. This expression is often used for the political actions of dissident groups. Thus, the actions of these groups are made questionable and criminalized.
Instigator: This word, meaning “factious, troublemaker”, is often used to describe dissenters with different ideas and the realities that have never been mentioned but have the possibility of damaging the status quo when expressed. It is problematic to use it in the news language since it may damage the reputation of the target person and make her/him a target.
Intrigue: This word’s current widespread use is totally a connotation that means leaving someone in a difficult situation by plotting against her/him. In Turkish, it is used together with the verb that means “to establish”. It is used especially for some in-state operations carried out with fictitious evidences and indictments. The fact that this statement has become so haphazardly used makes it doubtful the validity of the legal and security transactions. Defining any operation in the language of journalism an “intrigue” from the beginning is contrary to the principle of journalistic objectivity.
ISIS / DAESH / DEASH: The meaning of its Turkish acronym is “Iraqi Damascus Islamic State” and in Arabic it’s called “State’ul Iraq and Damascus”. They declare that some of the Sunni Muslim elements in Iraq and Syria have established a state in which Shariah Law will prevail, and they use terror and violence against those who do not comply with these rules. At first the name ISIS was commonly used in Turkey; however, the President, by claiming that Islam could not be mentioned together with terror, argued that the acronyms DAESH or DEASH are more accurate and insisted on their use. In contrast, some sections, who criticize the actions of the group that does not hesitate to apply terrorism despite describing itself as Muslim, insist on the use of ISIS. These three acronyms have become one of the most significant indicators of social polarization in Turkey.
Kurd: The ethnic group with the next highest population after Turks of Turkey’s population. The ethnic group, who live predominantly in the eastern and south-eastern parts of Anatolia, and has been considered by the state as a threat to the national unity of the country for years because of its cultural and political claims. Therefore, the Kurdish identity has a negative place in the imagination of a dominant majority of the Turkish section of the state and society. Stereotypes created due to this negativity attributed to Kurdish identity are easily produced and circulated in mainstream media. The negative image of the Kurds is constantly reproduced as it is referred to with negative qualities such as “traitor”, “uncultured” and “excessive childbirth”. For this reason, it is common to mention the word Kurd before the perpetrator or perpetrators, while reporting on negative actions and situations. Yet, the continuous presentation of any negative action attached to a particular ethnic identity fosters anger, discrimination and hatred against that identity. Such discriminatory practices are also problematic in terms of journalism.
Kurdist: It is used for people who argue that the political and cultural rights of Kurds should be guaranteed constitutionally. It justifies stigmatizing people since they have thoughts contrary to the official ideology of the state. The use of such an expression in the news language fosters hatred towards both a particular ethnic identity and the person defending the rights of that ethnic identity. Therefore, it is problematic to use in the news language.
Lackey: Literally meaning “a male servant”, this word is used to make the words and behaviours of people who have thoughts other than the official discourse and criticize the actions of the ruling party questionable. The word, which implies that these people “do business with external powers” and cooperate with them, incites hostility towards both the states and communities called “external powers” the person they target. The use of such negative value-laden words in the news language is problematic in terms of the principle of journalistic objectivity. (Example: British lackey, American lackey)
Laicist (secularist): It means someone who is extremely loyal and over-interprets the principle of laicism, which is the principle stating that the religious and state affairs should be regarded as separate institutions. In Turkey such distinctions as modern-traditional, religious-secular, Kemalist-religious come to a deadlock about to what extent the religious rules will be included in daily life. The religious sector, having gained strength recently, has tried to neutralize this defence by calling “laicist” to those who advocate the application of the principle of laicism they regard as the cause of head-scarf ban. Indeed, they have become successful in the end. However, the concept of laicist easily produces its opposite, the religionist. Both of these concepts have an accusing, discriminating and exclusionary feature. Therefore, it is problematic to use them this way in news language.
Lesbian: It means a woman who has romantic and/or sexual attraction to persons of the same sex. If the information about the sexual identity of the subject of the news is necessary, there is no problem in using it in this way. However, if such information is not required, giving it may lead to discrimination and exclusion against the person.
Jester: The word that is known with its common negative meanings “trickster, hustler, truckler”, is used to heavily criticize someone’s unapproved behaviour and insult her/him. It is problematic to use in the news language since it contains negative value judgement.
Jihadist: Having its roots in the word “jihad”, which means war for religion, this word is used to describe the people who participated in that war to the death. It especially defines people who fight for the arbitration of the “Islamic State” established in the region after the Syrian War and who can target and kill all kinds of “non-Islamic” regions and people regardless of civil or military. There are two drawbacks to the use of the word in this way: The first one is leading to a hierarchy in terms of legitimacy among terrorist organizations by limiting the people who perform terrorist acts to individuals and groups who believe in a particular religion. The second is becoming a tool for the propaganda of such groups on the other hand that use terror in the name of religion by encouraging war for religion.
Malicious attack: This clause, which is contrary to the rules of news writing, constitutes comments unrelated with the news content in the face of incidents. In this phrase, created by adding the adjective malicious before the word attack, the adjective usually implies the terrorist attacks of marginalized groups. (Example: Three soldiers were martyred in the malicious attack on a military vehicle in Tunceli)
Man: It is a gendered word in its use. “Man” normalizes what belongs to men and through it, reproduces gender inequality. It’s generally used as “like a man…” and implies that the subject it comes before is someone who is solid and character-wise. However, this implication also implies that the women lack the positive qualities attributed to “being male” and reinforces patriarchal cultural patterns by reproducing them.
Martyr: The word, having the lexical meaning “someone who died for the sake of her/his faith”, has demonizing connotation regarding the other party in the conflict while it involves the blessing of death. Instead of this word, “the person who lost his life” could be used. Although “martyr” is normally a religiously referenced expression, it has become increasingly common for deaths in almost any occupational group. Expressions such as press martyrs, education martyrs, revolutionary martyrs, miner martyrs are generally used because they facilitate the acceptance of deaths by negligence.
Massacre (verb and noun): This word, meaning mass murder and to slaughter, is used to report events such as terrorist attacks, brutal murders and killings in wars. The terrible landscape evoked by the word can often lead to panic as well as provocation of conflicts. In this respect, in such murder cases the news should be reported with the word “to kill” which doesn’t allow much connotations.
Murderer: This statement, which is used for any suspect of murder, cannot be used in the news language as long as it is not decided by the court. The correct version is the “murder suspect”.
Muscovite: This word, which used to describe the “Russian” identity in the past, has gained the meaning of “someone merciless and cruel” in time. In the news in some newspapers, when the relations with Russia are getting strained, the old meaning and the new meaning are used together to insult the Russian state and Russian ethnic identity. It is problematic to use in the news language as it serves to denigrate a particular nation and a state and presenting them attached to the violence.
Occupation: It defines the act of one state capturing forcefully the land of another state by violating international laws. Depending on the conjuncture, it is used to describe the attempt by Israel to open Palestinian territories to Jewish settlement. When the word occupant, which is derived from the word occupation, is used for a particular nation, it may lead to inciting hostility towards them.
Perfidious: The use of this word, literally meaning “prostitute” and having multiple connotations like “renegade, elusive and unreliable”, leads to multifaceted discrimination. Adding this word, which has an extremely sexist implication both literally and with its connotations to the news language functions to insult the female gender and to imply that the target people are feminine and dishonourable. It is problematic to use words that contain such value judgments and reflect moral and characteristic negativity through the humiliation of a particular gender in the language of journalism.
Pro-coup: Having started to be used after 15th July period, appearance of this word in the newspapers and news reports, has led the journalists to the position to judge and punish. How is the criterion of being a pro-coup is determined? It is problematic to identify possible perpetrators of the event with these expressions in the news or news headlines even though the court’s decision on them as pro-coups has not been finalized yet.
Provocateur: Meaning “instigator” in Turkish, this word of foreign origin is often used for the person(s) who try to spread ideas other than the official discourse or provoke the people by acting contrary to the value judgements adopted by the large segments of the society. The purpose of this provocation is to incite the conflict between people. Nevertheless, the use of this word for anyone randomly makes it impossible to defend different ideas. It is also problematic to use it to describe any person in the news language since it contains negative value judgement.
Puppet: This word that is used to describe people or groups in the texts includes insult and humiliation. This expression, which renders political activity and agency meaningless, usually has a function that feeds conspiracy theories. The criticisms of the people and groups targeted by this word to the power and its executive acts are discredited. Because the word puppet implies that the actions of social perpetrators are manipulated by ambiguous “enemies”. Therefore, it is against the rules of writing news.
Rag: This concept, used by a particular section of the society for such symbols like flags, pennants and emblems or the signs of a political party, a newspaper, and a magazine aims to incite humiliation, hatred and hostilizing. It is especially common to use for the flags and pennants of Kurdish Movement.
Randy: This word meaning “got beyond the limits and rampant”, is used in pro-government media organs to negate the groups who criticize the government “excessively” or to discredit the statements made by leaders of countries the state is politically in conflict with.
Reactionist: It is a value-laden adjective that is used for people who have problems in adapting to contemporary values and modern life and miss old traditional values. In this sense, it serves a function in feeding social polarization with dualities like progressive-reactionary and its use in the news language and headlines is problematic.
Religionist: It means the person who looks like a believer but exploits the religion for her/his daily and political interests. The word, taken an important place in Turkey’s political history, is often used for the people who want to make religious rules dominant in the operation of state and society and who exploit religious sensitivities of society. However, it is often problematic to use it in journalistic language, since it leads to a sharp discrimination between those with extreme religious sensitivity and those with little religious sensitivity. Because judging any person because of his / her religious belief / disbelief, which is purely personal and private, is against the freedom of belief and incompatible with the ethics of journalism.
Rootless: Literally meaning “baseless, unfounded”, the counterpart of this word in conservative section is “having no correspondence in society, unaware of the society’s customs and traditions”. It is often used to describe people who criticize moral and cultural norms that are deep-rooted, dogmatized, and problematic to question. It has a function that prevents questioning of unequal relations in society and confronting some facts in order to become a better society. It is problematic to use this word in the news language since it contains indirect insults. (For example: rootless intellectuals, rootless academics)
Rum: It was the most well-known non-Muslim minority population in Anatolia before World War I. They had lived for many years in Anatolia. However, due to the national unity ideals of nation-state policies, majority of them were sent to Greece as a result of the population exchange between Greece and Turkish Republic which replaced the Ottoman Empire. The remaining few were forced to migrate from Turkey through tax and pogrom policies over time. With the nationalist feelings brought by the nation-state policies, hostility and animosity towards this population have arisen over time, which has led to a negative reaction against the Rum name. Together with the emergence of any tension regarding neighbouring country Greece or Cyprus in Turkish media this animosity increases even more and being Rum becomes a completely hostile image. However, the use of this image in this way incites discrimination, hostility and hatred and is problematic in terms of ethics of journalism.
Security forces: A phrase used as a collective force as a perpetrator in cases of intervention in illegal events. It has a function that destroys and makes the information invisible behind the collective will / administration; such as which branch of the security forces intervened, who the perpetrator is if there is any murder case. Generally, all the acts of intervention of the perpetrator are conjugated in passive voice to make the perpetrator as vague as possible. This makes any illegitimate circumstances that arise / will arise out of public gaze. (For example: Five members of the terrorist organization …. were captured dead by security forces in the house they were been hiding).
Sin: It means doing something prohibited by religion. The use of a religious jargon in the news language can lead to the exclusion of different religious groups. For example, eating pork is not a sin for Christians, but a sin for Muslims. If the judgement that this is an absolute sin is justified in the news, both the principle of objectivity of journalism would be violated and people who believe in other religions and don’t take this act as a sin would become excluded.
Smarmy: The word, meaning “fake, useless”, contains insult and humiliation. Members of power often use it for some of their opponents’ positive behaviours.
So-called: It is an adjective that means “a person or a situation/reality that is fact not like that but is known or called as such. It is used to indicate that the expression it defines is not really so. With this use, it raises doubts about the reality of the person or expression that it describes. The use of this expression in the news language is clearly contrary to the principle of objectivity. (For example: So-called academician, So-called Armenian genocide)
Syrian: It is a common phrase that is used for all Syrian asylum seekers coming to Turkey following the Syrian civil war in 2011 regardless of their ethnic origins. The statement went beyond being an expression that simply referred to the country of the interlocutors; and it has become a word that leads to hostilization, criminalization and discrimination. Mentioning the expression “Syrian” before the perpetrator in relation to any negative action brings discrimination and stereotyping and thus, is ethically inappropriate. (Example: Syrian thief, Syrian woman, Syrian bride, Syrian terrorist…)
Terrorist: The word, having the lexical meaning “the person who carries out violent acts for political purposes”, is used to describe the opposition groups whose political activities are intended to be discredited. This word is widely used by pro-government journalists for many dissidents who have not been found to have committed terrorist activities by court order. The arbitrary use of the expression makes the extrajudicial executions of the target persons or groups widespread.
Terror supporter: The phrase used without any concrete evidence should not be used since it targets individuals or groups. It is often used for all opposing segments of the society. It is a charge against dissentient persons and groups without legal basis. By this means, the arguments and positions of the opposition groups are made suspicious.
The promise of revenge: The phrase, that implies nourishing hatred and making amends for a bad action through illegal means, leads to the continuation of hostility. This phrase is commonly used in news texts. It is very problematic to use it in the news texts since it is a means of reproducing war and violence, as well as maintaining the conflict environment. This expression is not problematic if it is transmitted in the form of the statement of a person who is the subject of the news. However, if the statement is put to the headline without any quotation marks, it functions to reproduce violence and conflict.
Traitors: This phrase, which has been used frequently in recent times, has almost become a forename for the opposition groups. What the concept of treachery corresponds to, who or which group is declared a traitor for what reason is arbitrarily determined. This causes a certain segment of the society to become hostilized and even exposed to the physical attacks at times.
Transgender Individual: A person whose gender identity is different from the cultural expectations regarding the sex s/he is assigned at birth. For example, a woman who was born as female, but has a male sexual identity. However, it is commonly used by the society as the person who had gender reassignment surgery. Such words that have separate meanings and references in respect of the political identity, are often used in Turkey’s mainstream media whether incorrectly in place of each other or used only as gay or homosexual on purpose. This use often leads to the reproduction of a discriminatory and hostilizing language against the individuals they define.
Transvestite: A person who derives pleasure from dressing in clothes associated with the opposite sex, who wants to belong to the opposite sex rather in terms of appearance and behaviour. In folk wisdom, transvestites are thought as the ones who have not had a gender reassignment surgery. It is colloquially rather used as the man who desires to appear as a woman. In addition, it is often used to refer to transgender individuals. However, the concepts of transgender and transvestite are different in respect of the political identity. In Turkey, these individuals are often associated with crime and prostitution in the mainstream media and reported as news in the same way. The identification of this identity alongside criminal cases and the using this statement to identify the perpetrators of such cases brings discrimination and exclusion together. It is problematic in terms of journalism language.
Trap: A device to put someone or an animal into a difficult situation. The device established for hunting animals is used to capture them, and the order established for the person is used to leave the person in a difficult position. Recently, representatives of the ruling party often try to keep way the ones who are in charge are through hiding behind this expression during the economic and political adversities taking place in Turkey’s internal politics. The use of this expression therefore has two consequences. The first is to cover the negativity caused by the executive mistakes and to draw attention to other places. The second is that other areas of attention are often ambiguous and “trap-setting” enemies. However, since the enemies alleged to have set up this trap are usually the opposing groups, it is necessary to approach every word in question with suspicion.
Treacherous: The word, meaning “welsher, quitter or doing evil to someone underhand”, is generally used to define the “wrong” decisions taken by “the countries regarded as friends” during the conflict in international relations. If used for a particular country or people, it incites enmity and damages good relations and peace. It is problematic to use it in the news language since it contains negative value judgment and incites hatred towards the people or communities it targets. (For example: Treacherous American, Treacherous Armenian)
Trickster: This word, meaning untrustworthy and unreliable, is a negative value-laden adjective. It is used to insult the target person and damage his personality. It is problematic to use in the news language.
Ummah: The general name of the entire Muslim community who believes in the religion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Recently, however, it has started to be used predominantly by stricter and Sunni Muslims and it is also used by political power in Turkey for political propaganda. Its use in the news language is problematic as it deepens religious and denominational discrimination.
Villain: Having “doing evil on purpose, evil by her/his nature” as connotations, this word is often used to insult and discredit a name or an actor. It is problematic in terms of journalistic ethics since it has hostilizing implications and contains moral value judgments.
Villainy: It is a value-laden adjective that is used to describe the behaviour of anyone who does evil on purpose and doesn’t even have moral values. Political actors generally use it to describe the behaviour of their opponents whom they claim to lack patriotic and nationalist feelings. It is problematic to use such an expression in the news language as it is used to humiliate and insult.
Watchdog (Redneck): This word, literally meaning “coarse-structured, close to the ground, strong dog with strong legs”, has recently been used by some opposing sections to insult the others who voted for the ruling party. The word, having connotations like “foolish, mindless, easily deceivable”, leads to the geographical separation especially, and having the people of the regions that vote for the ruling party the most as target. By separating the target group, it encourages hatred and nurtures hostility against this section of society. In this respect, it is problematic to use it in the news language and in the headline.
Zoroastrian: The name of the person who is believed to be the founder of the Zoroastrian religion rooted in Iran. The name of the person who gave his name to this religion has transformed into to the religion’s name over time. There are still few people in the Middle East and some parts of Central Asia who believe in this religion. It is known that there are some tribes of Kurdish origin in Syria, Iran and Iraq, thus the secular attitude of Kurdish movement is accused as Zoroastrian by conservative groups. Believing in and belonging to a particular religion is a right to freedom of belief and no discrimination can be made on it. In the language of journalism, emphasizing the religion of people-individuals unnecessarily, creates a function that produces discrimination and hatred and it is problematic.