By Elif Ince
The current state of mainstream media and the obstacles against a free press in Turkey have been subject to various critical studies and reports. The main problems can be summarised as: government pressure; downsizing and loss of journalistic expertise; competition for website hits killing serious reporting; and cross-ownership structures in which media owners try to keep good relations with the government and to land public tenders.
Ceren Sözeri argues in the Ethical Journalism Network report Untold Stories: How Corruption and Conflicts of Interest Stalk the Newsroom that this is leading to a media landscape dominated by self-censorship and four major corporations. She states that: “The media has become just another way to demonstrate faithfulness to the ruling party in order to survive and grow in all sectors of the economy.”
Aside from business-related pressure from owners, direct government pressure on journalists has been intensifying. Hundreds have been fired in recent “downsizing/cost-cutting” operations.
Yavuz Baydar, in the Shorenstein Centre report The Newsroom as an Open Air Prison: Corruption and Self-Censorship in Turkish Journalism, paints a stark picture: “Investigative reporting, more crucial than ever, is on the verge of extinction. Journalists found themselves again in the courts and jails for professional conduct and the opinions they expressed.”
Turkey is now home to the largest community of Syrians displaced by the ongoing conflict: in August 2015 the Ministry of Interior Affairs stated that 1,905,000 have arrived.
In October 2014 a new law on Foreigners and International Protection was issued that granted “temporary protection” status to Syrians and grants the right to be admitted to Turkey and not be sent back against their will. However, the government is facing criticism for leaving Syrians with a legally ambiguous status. Last year 14 NGOs protested the failure to produce a follow-up statute. They explained that refugees didn’t know how long the “temporary protection” would last, what kind of status they would be given once it was over and whether they would be allowed to apply for asylum. The NGOs asked for new laws.
This article is taken from the Ethical Journalism Network's report 'Moving Stories - International Review of How Media Cover Migration'
About the author
Elif Ince (writer) is an Istanbul based journalist whose reporting on urban and environmental issues has received various awards. A graduate of Brown and Columbia University School of Journalism, she is the co-founder of Networks of Dispossession (mulksuzlestirme.org) – a collective data mapping project dedicated to investigate the relations between capital and power in Turkey.
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