“Words That Matter” – glossary by Cyprian journalists to address local issues


On 10th of July in Nicosia, the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFOM) in cooperation with the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), and three journalist associations, including EFJ affiliates Basin-Sen and Union of Cyprus Journalists,  has published “Words That Matter“, a trilingual glossary in English, Greek, and Turkish, to list phrases and words, used by the journalists in communities, which may be taken sensitively.

The glossary resulted from a common effort between the organisations to minimise hate speech in journalism, as well as trying to overcome the long-lasting tensions between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. The booklet was built upon the expertise of cooperating organisations and strong sense of shared responsibility to take up the challenge of identifying the entries and finding possible alternatives, under expert leadership of Aidan White, President of the Ethical Journalism Network.

The publication is a center part of the Cyprus Dialogue project, which in less than 2 years managed to bring the local media unions together to sign a memorandum of understanding and engage the young journalists in both communities in youth exchange for gaining the experience of working in the opposite community and drafting great investigative stories during their time on the other side of the island.

“This glossary will start a new era in Cyprus, as journalists will begin to discuss, improve and even criticize it”, says Ali Kişmir,president of Basin-Sen, Press Worker’s Union of Cyprus.

It was drafted by authorised ethical committees in Cyprus which identified the words and terminology other community may feel uncomfortable with. “The glossary will not answer all the questions, but will start a dialogue and discussion between the journalists of two communities,” comments Ali Kişmir. 

Publication will act as a reference tool for journalists to use in their everyday work completely voluntarily, without imposing or restricting the use of typical words, but instead, offering explanations of why and how the use of certain words may be perceived by the other community. The glossary aims to raise awareness of the impact of language used by journalists, and assist them in shaping a new information landscape in Cyprus. Adopting the glossary in the everyday work may contribute to a better understanding between the communities as well as enhance quality of journalism, based on the approach that pluralistic media, ethical and quality journalism are essential in every society.

Find the full publication here.