Covid-19 Pandemisi Sürecine İlişkin Bir Retorik Analiz: T.C. Sağlık Bakanı Dr. Fahrettin Koca’nın Basın AçıklamalarıSema Çağlayan
Bu çalışmada, Covid-19 pandemisinin yarattığı risk ve korku sürecinde öne çıkan aktör olan Sağlık Bakanı Dr. Fahrettin Koca’nın ideolojik ya da siyasi olmaktan öte, daha çok bilimsel bir alanda ve pandemi sürecinde gerçekleştirdiği konuşmaların söylem özelliklerinin ortaya çıkarılması amaçlanmıştır. Bu amaçla Türkiye’de ilk Covid-19 vakasının açıklandığı tarih olan 11 Mart 2020 ile kontrollü sosyal hayata geçilen 11 Mayıs 2020 tarihleri arasında Bilim Kurulu toplantıları sonrasında gerçekleştirilen toplam 15 adet basın açıklaması cümleler halinde ayrıştırılmış ve 1.801 adet veri elde edilmiştir. Veriler “Retoriğin Beş Kanonu” ve “Aristoteles’in Üç İkna Kanıtı” bağlamında betimsel içerik analizi yöntemiyle incelenerek SPSS veri analiz programına kodlanmış, daha sonra Frekans (N) ve CrossTab (Çapraz Tablo) yöntemleri kullanılarak analiz edilmiştir. Aristoteles’in üç ikna kanıtına yönelik yapılan analize göre öne çıkan ikna bileşeninin logos olduğu tespit edilmiştir. Logos dâhilinde, mantıki gerekçeler ve kanıtlarla kamuoyunu ikna etmeye yönelik çabanın hedefinin, pandeminin yarattığı kriz sürecinde ihtiyaç duyulan güven duygusunu yansıtmak ve panik yayılımının kontrolünü sağlanmak olduğu söylenebilir. Retoriğin beş kanonuna yönelik yapılan analizde, konuşmaların bölümlere ayrılarak yapılandırıldığı, üzerinde durulan konuların bağlamının anlaşılması için yeterli bilgi sağlamak adına öyküleme bölümlerine ve açıklamalara ağırlıklı olarak yer verildiği, ikna öğelerinin alt bileşenlerinin kullanımının ilgili her bölümde konunun bağlamına göre düzenlendiği tespit edilmiştir. Açıklamalarda yalın ve kısa cümlelerin yer aldığı, bununla birlikte süslülük unsurlarına da yer verildiği ve konuşmacının beden dilini etkin şekilde kullandığı belirlenmiştir. Konuşmaların Türkiye’nin geneline hitaben yapıldığı ve sıklıkla tıbbi açıklamalar içerdiği göz önünde bulundurulduğunda cümlelerin doğru bir strateji ile yapılandırıldığı görülmektedir. Kullanılan yalın dil ile iletişimde yaşanacak anlamsal kazaları en aza indirmenin, süslülük unsurları ile kamuoyunun ilgisini devam ettirmenin ve söylemi canlı tutmanın hedeflendiği söylenebilir. Bu bulgular, basın açıklamalarında retorik unsurlarının geniş kapsamda yer aldığını göstermektedir.
A Rhetorical Analysis of the Covid-19 Pandemic Process: Turkish Minister of Health Dr. Fahrettin Koca’s Press BriefingsSema Çağlayan
This study sought to reveal discourse characteristics in speeches made by the Minister of Health, Fahrettin Koca, pertaining to Covid-19 rather than ideological or political matters. Koca has been the most prominent actor in managing the risk and fear caused by Covid-19. The speeches in question were delivered after Scientific Committee meetings during the period from 11 March 2020, when the first case of Covid-19 appeared in Turkey, to May 11, 2020, when controls on social life were first applied. A total of 15 press statements were analyzed and were divided into individual sentences to obtain 1,801 individual pieces of data. The data were examined using qualitative and quantitative content analysis in the context of the “Five Canons of Rhetoric” and Aristotle’s “Three Modes of Persuasion.” They were then coded into SPSS for analysis, which allowed frequency (N) and cross tabulations (CrossTabs) to be calculated. Analysis based on Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion demonstrated that logos was the most prominent persuasion component. The apparent goal of convincing the public with justifications and evidence rooted in logos reflects the need to engender trust during the pandemic crisis and to control the spread of panic. Analysis based on the five canons of rhetoric showed that speeches were structured with clear sections. Narrative sections and explanations were included predominantly to provide sufficient information to contextualize the topics under discussion, and the use of sub-components of persuasion was tailored to the context of the subject in each relevant section. A preference for plain and short sentences was also identified, but ornamentation was also present and the speaker used body language effectively. Considering that the speeches addressed all of Turkey and frequently included medical explanations, they were clearly structured carefully. The use of plain language was likely designed to reduce potential semantic accidents, while elements of ornamentation helped to sustain public interest and to enliven the discourse. These findings indicate that rhetorical elements are widely present in press statements.
During crises such as epidemics, the more the public trusts leaders who are responsible for managing the response, the more likely they are to adhere to necessary measures. Poor communication can even worsen a crisis (ECDC, 2011, pp. 8–9). Crisis communication, which seeks to inform and warn the public, supports efforts to alleviate the concerns of the public (CDC, 2014, p. 6). Accordingly, the attitudes adopted by leaders and the maintenance of a rapid and transparent information flow are important in calming the fear and panic likely to occur during a crisis. In this context, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic in Turkey, Fahrettin Koca, the Minister of Health, has kept the public informed about the current situation, warned them about the measures to be taken, and provided daily updates supported by data via both his personal Twitter account and press conferences to national media. This study therefore seeks to examine rhetorical features, rather than ideological or political elements, in the speeches of Koca, who has been the most prominent actor in managing the risk and fear caused by Covid-19. Speeches made during the pandemic are examined in terms of the arguments put forward to convince the public, the density of persuasive components, the style of rhetoric, and the structure of speeches.
The research was carried out both quantitatively and qualitatively, based initially on a descriptive model. The scope of the research encompasses all press statements made by the Minister of Health after Scientific Committee meetings. The sample consists of 15 press events between March 11, 2020, when the first case of Covid-19 appeared in Turkey, and May 11, 2020, when controls on social life were first applied. In this study, a total of 15 press releases were separated into sentences to obtain 1,801 pieces of data. Each sentence was then encoded into SPSS for analysis in terms of its meaning, first in the context of Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion, and then based on the five canons of rhetoric. Frequencies and cross tabulations were then calculated. The process of coding sentences occurred in three stages to prevent possible erroneous assessments. All 1,801 sentences were coded in the first stage, followed by a second round of coding four weeks later, and a third round after another two weeks. During the third coding, any sentences that were coded differently in the second stage were re-assessed and coded in the program to complete the process.
The results indicated that the most prominent component of rhetorical persuasion in speeches was logos. In Koca’s speeches, references to the capabilities and success of Turkey’s health system are frequent, the adequacy of human resources in health care is emphasized, and successful treatment outcomes are confirmed through statistics and explanations. The management of global epidemics is undertaken primarily by the medical and administrative disciplines. Thus, Koca has sought to convince the public through reason, evidence, and by explaining data and practices in the field of medicine. In so doing, he aims to instill a sense of confidence among the public that will be particularly necessary both to address the pandemic itself and to control the spread of anxiety and panic.
The analysis conducted on the basis of the five canons of rhetoric showed that narrative dominated the speeches. Narrative was used most prominently in the introduction, conclusion, evidence, and rejection/rebuttal sections. The data showed that Koca’s speeches were structured with clear sections, and that the narrative sections and explanations were extended to provide the public with enough information to understand the context of the issues (McKay & McKay, 2011). The use of sub-components of persuasion was tailored to the context of the subject in each relevant section. In times of crisis and panic, it is very difficult to convey vital information to the public in the correct manner (Sentell, Vamos & Okan, 2020, pp. 2-13). Since everyone can now create and share their own content with diverse media tools, it has become increasingly difficult to control the spread of unconfirmed information. This situation, called infodemic, interferes with access to reliable information and resources when needed (World Health Organization, 2020) and has led countries and various organizations to take additional measures during the Covid-19 pandemic. In this environment, the press statements regularly made by Koca since the beginning of the pandemic should be seen as meaningful and valuable efforts in the fight against infodemic.
Koca avoids using long, complex, tiring sentences in his speeches, and prefers simple, short sentences. Given that the speeches are addressed to the general public of Turkey and often include medical explanations, this configuration of sentences seems to be the right strategy. However, there are also elements of asiaticism in these speeches, especially motivating sentences, comparisons, appeals, idioms, and metaphors. Koca’s use of these elements shows that he is trying to avoid mediocrity in his speeches and striving to keep the discourse alive by attracting the attention of the public. The use of diverse addresses is a technique for drawing attention. In particular, Koca’s addresses other participants in press events in a friendly and glorifying manner, e.g., using names such as “Mr. Ali” or “Mrs. Hatice” that widely used throughout Turkey. This is likely to be more effective in drawing attention to the explanations to be presented. These addresses by Koca can help to establish a sincere connection with the target audience, to enhance the impact of the speech, and to extend the attention span of the audience.
All of these findings show that press statements by Turkey’s Minister of Health, Fahrettin Koca, to the public include a wide range of rhetorical elements.