Rulers who did wrongs and citizens who did not see.. After failed coup attempt on 15th of July, 2016, The State of Emergency was declared in Turkey. Until this date, the most dangerous force which was threat to the security of the Turkish State was the terrorist organization called Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)1. With the advantage of state of emergency, against the constitution and human rights, The Government (AKP) declared two different movements as terrorist organizations.
- Kurdish Political Movement, especially Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), is the political movement that aims to work in the political system according to its own agenda. Despite their active presence in the Assembly, After HDP refused to establish a partnership with the AKP, Leaders (Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag) and some members of the party were imprisoned and the HDP alleged to be associated with the terrorist organization(PKK) by the government and by this way declared as a terrorist.
- Fetullah Gulen Religious Movement, now called as a “FETO” in Turkey, is an International non-governmental organization, which provides activities such as education, cooperation and dialogue all over the world. After the operation concerned with corruption and bribery criminal organizations, that some government officials and relatives had been suspected as members (some of them were detained) in 2013, The Government claimed these operations as a coup attempt and polices and prosecutors who operated these were Gulenist. On July 15th, 2016, there was a coup attempt, which eventually failed. Despite Gulen Movement’s denials, it is declared that this was operated by the Gulenist soldiers in military. After three years, there is no clear evidence about perpetrator or organizer, but there is a clear result, with the advantage of state of emergency, The President of Turkey and Leader of AKP, Mr. R. Tayyip Erdogan, became more powerful above the constitution and assembly.
In term of state of emergency and after, up to now,
More than 130,000 people were expelled from public service in the state of emergency. In the private sector, many people lost their jobs. However, it is difficult to reach certain numbers. The highest number of closed institutions were associations and foundations. 1.748 foundations and associations were closed. 7080 academics were dismissed from universities.2
In addition to this, many schools, 15 foundation universities, many private course centers, student dormitories alleged to have links with the Gulenist community, were closed. 3, Turkish government have seized or appointed an administrator to 965 companies (assets totaling some 41 billion liras ($11.3 billion) and they have more than 46,000 employers) with total annual sales of some 21.9 billion liras ($6 billion) in 1 year after failed coup attempt. Government took control of a bank (Bank Asya), industrial companies and media firms as part of the crackdown on companies accused of links to Gulen Movement. 4 The Minister of the Interior Suleyman Soylu, on March 10th 2019, announced that: “since 15 July 2016, 511 thousand people were taken into custody and the recent number of detainees are 30,821”.5
For Kurdish Political Movement, November 4th, 2016, 12 deputies, including HDP co-chairs (Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag) were detained and nine of them were arrested. In the following months, the number of HDP deputies rose to 15. Later, more than ten deputies of the HDP and several mayors were sent behind bars in following various times. According to the data of the Ministry of Interior in January 2018, 94 out of the 102 municipalities of HDP were appointed as administrator by government.6
Term in the process of developing failed coup attempt in Turkey, as mentioned above, many people were dismissed from their jobs which were being accepted as a threat for state security and some of them were imprisoned. Although the proceedings are continuing, due to the intervention of the political situation to the judgment in Turkey, generally, there are bubbling out of the fair decision in courts. In the statement of Istanbul Bar Association in September 3th,2018, this is said that “The state of emergency has become permanent, the confidence in the judiciary has dropped to 30%”7 At this point, it should be noted that according to the Rule of Law Index 2019, Turkey took place in the 109th among 126 countries.8
Picture 1: The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2019
In addition to this, ıt should be noticed that according to report of Freedom House in 2019, Turkey is not considered as a free country.
Picture 2: Freedom in the World 2019 9
Despite this information about Turkey’s law about freedom conditions above-mentioned, particularly large population that most of them have Islamists and conservative Muslim identity, continue to support the AKP and Erdogan regime. Tens of thousands of people from security forces (such as police, soldiers), politicians, mayors, teachers, doctors, engineers, judges and prosecutors, artists, writers and journalists, academicians, businessmen etc. many professions were declared as a terrorist, dismissed, imprisoned and damaged their reputation. It can be said that, despite such injustice, the number of AKP supporters did not decrease. There can be said many reasons to explain this situation. One of them is, undoubtedly, the effect of the media on this issue.
Media in Turkey
In term of state of emergency term and after,
According to the information in the State of Emergency Practices Report published by the Human Rights Joint Platform (IHOP), and updated with the recent information, 70 newspapers, 34 radio and 33 television channels were closed in the state of emergency term.10 Organization of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) representative in Turkey Erol Onderoglu said that “media monopolization is being seen recently in the in Turkey, in contrast to the fact that Turkey needs pluralistic news”.
According to Human Rights Watch(HRW) World Report 2019, Turkey remained the world leader in jailing journalists. An estimated 175 journalists and media workers are in pretrial detention or serving sentences for terrorism offenses at time of writing. Hundreds more are on trial but at liberty. Most of media is in lack of independence and promotes the government’s political line. The blocking of websites and removal of online content continued, and thousands of people in Turkey faced criminal investigations and prosecutions for their social media posts. Wikipedia remains blocked in Turkey.11
Bianet and Reporters Without Borders prepared together “The Media Ownership Monitoring Project (MOM) Report” and according to this report published in May 2019, there are 2474 newspapers in the media sector, 3650 magazines, 899 radio stations and 108 television channels are broadcasting in Turkey. And the country’s top 40 media organizations are controlled by companies operating in industry and commerce, with the exception of the media.12
According to the Press Freedom Index 2019, by the Organization of Reporters Without Borders, Turkey took place in the 157th of 180 countries listed.13 With the decline of press freedom in Turkey, it is also experiencing a huge decline in news quality.
Role of Media
Digital News Report 2018 was published by Reuters Institute of Oxford University. In the report, fake news, confidence in the media and behavior of news consumers were examined. News from 37 different countries was examined in one week.
Turkey was announced as the country with most of misleading and fake news.
Picture 3: Digital News Report, Made-up News, 2018 14
At this point, it is necessary to mention the media group “AKP Media” or popularly called ” Pool Media (Havuz Medyası)” in Turkey that work for as propaganda and perception management in favor of AKP. Pool Media is the name given to this group because the organs in it were purchased by the fund which was created by Leader of AKP, Erdogan, by collecting money from owners of some companies that close to him. In return for the money he received, Erdogan helped these companies to win government contracts. In this way, those companies made a profit but government finances damaged. In 2013, some prosecutors and polices wanted to conduct corruption operations on these and similar issues. However, as stated above, the government declared these operations as a coup attempt and claimed these were operated by the supporters of Gulen movement in police and judiciary. 15
As it is being noted above, The Organization of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) representative in Turkey Erol Onderoglu said “Media monopolization is being seen recently in the in Turkey.” in 2019. When it is compared with about 5 years’ ego (in 2014), it can be easily seen that there were different media groups and diversity was greater than today.
- AKP media (Star, Yeni Safak, Aksam, Sabah, Turkiye groups, group of television and radio channels, plus public media such as TRT and Anadolu Agency)
- Gulenist media (Zaman, Bugun newspapers and connected television, radio channels)
- Doguş (NTV), Ciner (HaberTurk), Demiroren (Milliyet-Vatan) groups, who are close to power, have sworn allegiance,
- The largest (quantitatively) media group, Dogan (Hurriyet, Posta and its affiliated TV channels), which resisted to subjugate to the AKP government,
- The media, which is opposed to the AKP, various media organs such as Sozcü, Cumhuriyet, Aydınlık, Yurt, Birgun, Sol, Evrensel, Ozgur Gundem and several TV channels. 16
- AKP media or Pool Media strengthened and continue to exist.
- Gulenist Media is closed. Companies have passed under the state control. Many employers were arrested.
- Doguş (NTV), Ciner (HaberTurk), Demiroren (Milliyet-Vatan) groups strengthened and continue to exist.
- Dogan Media Group was purchased by Demiroren Group.17
- Various media organs opposed to AKP continue to exist under high political pressure (Some of these media organs started to support the Erdogan’s Administration too.)
As a result, it can be said that, fake and biased journalism dominates the main media for AKP interests. And this journalism tries to prevent the citizens from being aware of all kinds of mistakes from the deterioration of the economy to the security problems and even the lawlessness of the above mentioned crowded human communities and tries to show all the policies of the government good and required with propaganda tools.
Alternative platforms against the monopolization of mainstream media are tried to be created. Because of the change of media ownership in Turkey during the last 10 years, this has led to the rise of digital media. The newly established online news platforms have begun to change the balance and outlook in the media sector18. In recent years, with the increase of internet usage in Turkey, journalism in social media (such as YouTube, Twitter, Periscope etc. news publishing platforms) and digital media increased. In this case, “In Turkey, especially among young people who are curious about the truth, I mean those who want to use the right of access to public information are turning increasingly to the internet. This area is accelerating with the support of social media. In a short time, it becomes news to a wide audience. This makes an extra and positive contribution to the public’s right to access the news. Now, real news in Turkey is written by a group of journalists to spread via the Internet and through social media is announced to the public. Journalism lives and fights in the field of social media.” Kerem Caliskan (Journalist, one of the pioneers of internet journalism in Turkey) said.19
According to The report “Digital 2019 in Turkey” that is about the Internet and social media statistics of Turkey prepared by “We are social” and “Hootsuit” companies,
- Population of internet users and social media, in which the government’s control is less than in classical media, are at the tables. According to these 2 tables, it can be said that there are more than 50 million internet and social media users in 2019.
Picture4,5: Digital 2019 in Turkey20
- As seen at this table, the most active social media platform is YouTube. Instagram and Facebook follow it.
Picture 6: Digital 2019 in Turkey20
For Social and Digital Media,
In 2019, “+90″ You tube channel, established by DW, BBC, France 24 and VOA partnership, and the Turkish services of International Media Organizations such as “Independent Turkish” began the digital broadcasting in Turkey. According to The Media Ownership Monitoring Project (MOM) Report on digital media research, on May 2019, 67% of people of Turkey via computers, 72% of people in Turkey are following the news via mobile phone. 63 % of the country’s population is active social media users.21
According to the 2018 Digital News Report of the Reuters Institute; Periscope news via YouTube in Turkey and tracking rates increased rapidly over the past few years. As intelligence platform, usage of YouTube has been increased 9 times and the use of Twitter has been increased 10 times over than past years. 22
Traditional media brands using content repackaged from print, television, or from news agencies, and digital-born web portals which aggregate stories from the same sources continue to represent the biggest online media. Apart from them, there is only one digital-born brand (Onedio) in the top online media list. Beyond mainstream media, there is a number of smaller digital-born brands that continue to operate freely, providing alternative perspectives. These include OdaTV, T24, Diken, Duvar, Bianet, Medyascope TV, Ahval News, which is funded by Al Arab Publishing, Journo, and ArtıTV. However, they have not yet established sustainable models, and cannot afford to employ full-time experienced reporters for investigative journalism. They are mostly accessed by the educated people in the big cities, and they try to reach other audiences through social media, particularly Facebook which is the most popular platform in the country.23
Information, on these platforms above, is spreading very quickly. And wrong/fake information, such as correct/real information, is also spreading very quickly. In this context, a website set up by a group of journalists in Turkey should be mentioned. On this web site, called “teyid.org”24, these journalists examine suspicious information, that spreads quickly in a short period of time, and share certain result about whether it is correct or not.
As understood from the above, in Turkey, the freedom or the right of access to public information is blocked by political situation, pressure, and tools as a “Pool Media” that disseminate fake news and propaganda. Alternative ways to reach real news have been actively used for some times. Internet journalism, digital media and social media have become a platform, against mainstream media, that increases the effect of people to reach the right information.
As a result, it can be said that media in Turkey, ideas, thoughts, ideologies, no matter how it is, generally divided in two groups. The first group is the group that sees and writes the truth. Journalists in this group boldly investigate and criticize. These Journalists generally live under pressure, are attacked, threatened, imprisoned. The media organizations where these journalists work are being closed down or under threat. Today, these journalists, in Turkey and outside Turkey, are trying to continue to work using alternative platforms mentioned above. The second group disseminates false news and propaganda against people’s right to information. As seen above, the media organizations are growing and dominating the mainstream media.
At last, there are 3 statistics about the use of media in Turkey below. You are recommended to review.
Picture 7: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism / Digital News Report 201822
Picture 8: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism / Digital News Report 201822
Picture 9: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism / Digital News Report 201822