Media Narratives, Politics and the Cyprus Problem

PRIO Report

Christophorou, Christophoros ; Sanem Sahin; & Synthia Pavlou (2010) Media Narratives, Politics and the Cyprus Problem, PRIO Report, 1. Nicosia: PRIO Cyprus Centre.

Media, politics and the Cyprus Problem are the main themes of the present study. Through analysis of Greek and Turkish Cypriot television news bulletins and newspaper editorials and leading articles, the study seeks to establish media approaches and positions on important issues so as to better understand their work, role and functions. The study analyses practices and positions related to the Cyprus Problem, the solution, matters of identity, the ‘others’ and the European Union, the authorities and the political forces. This attempt to ascertain the underlying values that guide news selection and content will provide a clearer picture of how the media interacts with or influences society.

The study of sample data from late 2002, 2007 and July 2008 has revealed that, along with some differences, the two communities’ media have common features and practices; these are sustained over time irrespective of the general context. While the media perspectives and positions of the two sides may differ, in many instances they all obey the same or similar principles.

On most issues the media promote the official selection and interpretation of events or those of different elite groups, based on affinities with their own views and positions. High dependency on official
news sources, in particular of the Turkish Cypriot media, leads to disseminating the content and structure of the official discourses.

When reporting on core aspects of the Cyprus Problem and the status of the two sides there is little or no differentiation on either side; onesided legitimacy or status superiority, stereotypical positions of the own side’s good intentions and the other’s wrong doings dominate.

The mediated world is composed of various pairs of ‘us’ and the ‘other’, community or group in the other or the own community; there is an emphasis on dualities, with the ‘other’ being the problem because of its negative attributes. Most often, one side’s or a third party’s acts and decisions will be seen as simply connected to their good or evil nature, thus portraying it as an ally or as foe.

The framing of news and representations shows divergent perceptions of the core of the Cyprus Problem and consequently of how a solution can be reached.

Changes in power or the general atmosphere have limited effect on media coverage and stances. On most issues media practices and positions feature stability and continuity.

The question remains open; can the media articulate a discourse that deviates from the official or dominant discourses sustaining antagonism and conflict, in order to promote peace as a superior good?