Towards an Ethical Hermeneutics of Journalism

Duygu Onay-Coker


This paper applies a Ricœurian ethics in a two-fold personal/societal critique, choosing as a case study the representation of an “other” in a newspaper article. The personal critique uses a historical narrative (my own) as a window. Through it, we see hysterical stories about national enemies—in this case the Greek Cypriots—imposing themselves upon the developing consciousness of a growing child. I describe my awakening—through Ricœur’s idea of the creativity of language—from the spell of these dominant normative national narratives to the possibility of re-reading them creatively. Ricœur’s blueprint for engagement with such narrative structures holds out the promise of reading them in an ethical manner, and this is achievable through his linguistic hospitality. From there, this study, analyzing the ethical predicaments of mainstream journalism from the perspective of critical media studies, problematizes the issue of otherness in the news. The example taken up, a current Turkish newspaper article covering a Turkish Cypriot Parliamentarian’s remarks in session regarding the experiences of 1974 Cyprus, reveals how this otherization is actually constructed under the name of the journalistic profession. This essay then borrows a Ricœurian ethical perspective with a view to making news language more hospitable, repositioning both news organizations and news items alike within Ricœur’s ethical paradigm of leading a good life with and for others within just institutions. This conceptualization of the news item itself as a just institution is a change that journalists could make in order to bring the news more in line with a Ricœurian sense of ethics and away from the current dominant practices in mainstream journalism.


otherness, narrative, Paul Ricœur, ethics, journalism, representation, Cyprus

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