Reflectıons on Russıa-Ukraıne War ın Turkısh News Medıa


Executive Summary

Despite the increase in the use of social media platforms that enable protagonists to produce and disseminate their own messages, national and international news media remain the primary interpreters of the Ukraine-Russia war for the general public and key gatekeepers of contested views. Keeping this in mind, this report, focusing on the reflections of the Russia-Ukraine war in Turkey’s media, examines how BirGün, Cumhuriyet, Evrensel, Gazete Duvar, Hürriyet, Sabah, Sözcü, and Yeni Şafak produce news on the war, which headlines and actors they promote, what type of images they use, and the frames used during coverage. 

The findings of this research, obtained by conducting content analysis on 2418  news items between 24.02.2022-31.03.2022, are as below:

  • The ideological positions and editorial policies of the newspapers are decisive in terms of what the Russia-Ukraine war is called. While the concept of “war” is prominent in the newspapers Hürriyet, Yeni Şafak, and Sabah, which are known for their closeness to the government, it is seen that Evrensel, BirGün, and Gazete Duvar prefer the terms “military operation” and “operation”.
  • The most cited actors in the news are Ukrainian officials (23,6%), Turkish officials (14,5%), and Russian officials (12,5%).
  • In general, stories about the war were framed in terms of the attribution of responsibility and conflict, while economic consequences frames are scarcely observed in the news.  Mainstream media outlets employed economic consequences frames significantly more often than others.
  • Troops/soldiers and cities are the most used images in news coverage. These were followed by images of Zelensky and Turkish officials. Only 1.6% of news stories contain violent images of injury. 

  • Of the entire sample, approximately 28% of news stories focused on military actions, and about 14% focused on peace negotiations. With respect to specific differences between pro-government media outlets and opposing outlets, there was a tendency for pro-government media to represent the negotiations as a success of the Turkish government. For example, while Sabah and Yeni Şafak frame Turkey in their articles as the significant actor with the capability of solving  this issue for the sake of both parties, other newspapers hold a more neutral position regarding peace negotiations.  

  • It is also noteworthy to point out that the coverage of the war is mostly produced via the lens of Turkey’s own political agenda. National news media are in tune with the national government regarding their policy stance on the Russia-Ukraine war. This tends to be true for both pro-government and opposing media outlets. 

  • Only 7% of the news items contain concrete information on the background of the Ukraine-Russia War and relevant agreements. 8% of the war news includes editorial comments and reflects the perspective of the newspaper. These articles mainly include negative attitudes towards NATO and the “West”.