Covering the Turkish Elections at Euronews

Covering the Turkish Elections at Euronews
By Ali Ihsan Aydin
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Election nights have always been exciting in the Euronews’ newsroom. The calm atmosphere and the slowed rhythm of a weekend newsroom gives way to its place to excitement, emotion and rush with the kick off of the special election coverage. The job is to deliver the results and first reactions as quickly and accurately as possible to our audience around the world and of course, in their own language.

Covering an election in one country in a language is one thing, but doing this simultaneously in 13 languages with an international perspective, as good as the local news outlets, is another. This is what differentiates Euronews from various international news channels. In our newsroom, in Lyon, France, more than 500 journalists, coming from more than 20 countries, are working to produce Euronews in 13 languages. Beyond languages, these are different visions of the world and even more complementary expertise levels that ultimately nourish our core editorial values: objectivity and balance.

The 2015 General Elections, held on June 7, were crucial for the political future of Turkey. The ruling Justice and Development Party, which has been in power for the last 13 years, was facing its first test of a general election without its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Like in all elections, opinion polls were conducted until the last days to predict the Turks’ final choice in the ballot box, but the decision of the Pro-Kurdish HDP to run in the elections for the first time as a political party, rather than as independent candidates, made all the possible scenarios unpredictable and unexpected. The composition of the future Turkish parliament was to be determined by the ability of the pro-Kurdish party to get at least 10% of the national vote, the highest electoral threshold in the world.

At Euronews, the election coverage is more than just giving the results. We broadcast special programmes, analysis, debates and portraits during the week ahead of the election day. Providing our audience with background elements and perspectives to help give better understanding of the numbers is an important aspect of Euronews’ election coverage. The work starts weeks before. Euronews’ Turkish service brought essential expertise to the whole coverage. The pre-election reports focused on the transformation of the political, social and economic landscape in Turkey in recent years: the political system, the Kurdish question, the Syrian refugees, Europe, economy, regime changes, religion, Armenian candidates… Bora Bayraktar, Euronews’ Turkey correspondent produced stories on the ground from all around the country, talking to local politicians, people and experts. These stories are edited by news teams here in the newsroom, and run simultaneously across the 13 languages of Euronews.

Web is an important part of the plan. A special Turkish election page has been created to put together and run the entire coverage in digital platforms. Besides the global edition, the Turkish journalists also produced local stories for the Turkish page of Euronews.

The most thrilling episode of the entire coverage was the election night. Two special teams, each comporising 13 journalists representing the 13 language services of Euronews, were set up to announce and to comment on the results coming from Ankara. One for live on air and the other for live blogging on digital platforms during the whole night, until 1 am (CET). The ambiance was completely informal. Sandwiches and drinks in a corner, next to the gallery (Régie), during the whole night. Journalists running in the corridors to confirm the results or to ask the pronunciation of a name in Turkish. A duty editor in charge of live coverage chasing a journalist for an imminent live. Thanks to the Turkish team’s local expertise in the newsroom, Euronews announced the results in 13 languages to its global audience as fast as local news outlets. On digital platforms, stories were enriched by infographics and charts. Then, came the first reactions from political parties and interviews with experts, all broadcast live.

At the end of the night, all were tired but very happy to have announced and commented on the Turkish general elections as early and extensively as the local news channels. That is the power of Euronews: being global and local at the same time.

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