Large media companies kowtow to state pressure, and contribute to a culture of fear and accusations that try to keep independent media in check.
Yet if alarm for the independence of the Turkish press was already high, those concerns were raised still further soon after the outbreak of the summer demonstrations in 2013 to protect Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Protests spread to 78 of the 81 provinces in Turkey. The degree of self-censorship became so intense that the mainstream Turkish media itself became the subject of demonstration and open ridicule. Even so, Erdoğan declared that critical media – domestic and international – were part of a conspiracy to topple him and his government from power. Thereafter the demonisation of independent journalism gathered pace. Journalists who tried to defend their independence and dignity found themselves fired or dispatched to professional limbo.
American journalism isn’t doing so well either. We’re down to #49 in the Reporters Without Borders index. (source) But, Turkey’s servile large media companies and government pressure on independent journalists has pushed this so-called “democracy” to #149.
Baydar concludes with a comment on Turkey, but it is not entirely foreign to us here.
The notion of journalism as a check on the irresponsible, corrupt or unfettered exercise of power is evaporating. Investigative reporting, more crucial than ever, is on the verge of extinction. Our democracy now depends on whether the Turkish media can escape the quagmire into which one man’s ambition has driven it.
Power does not like a watchdog.