The study focuses on the freedom of the press in Turkey. Turkey is supposed to be one of the more liberal Muslim countries but events of the past few months on media crackdown do not reflect that.
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Some of the issues this study explores relate to how the government recently shut down social media sites, namely Twitter and YouTube before the elections. The research also covers media censorship and highlights any laws related to the freedom of the press in Turkey.
Today, the media industry in Turkey faces challenges related to press freedom, including indirect or direct government censorship, imprisonment of journalists, and laws that would allow prosecutions of journalists that criticize the governments.
According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Turkey has the highest number of imprisoned journalists in the world (more than China and Iran). At the same time, a judicial package was adopted in 2012, which addressed these challenges but they were not strong enough to allow and protect full press freedom.
Evidence from available studies indicates that Turkey’s press freedom has been deteriorating over the years and has dropped in the ranking of organizations such as Reporters Without Borders by fifty places.
Other organizations such as Freedom House have categorized Turkey as partly free and the 2012 European Commission Progress Report for Turkey (EU membership annual report) categorized press freedom as one of their main concerns. In addition, research shows that 68 percent of the imprisoned journalist’s cases were related to the Kurdish Issue.
Many of the journalists were charged under laws that were unrelated to media and the press like anti-terror laws and organized crime laws. There are also issues of court-ordered suspension of online sites and conflicts of interest due to media ownership.
The Possible Cause of the Increased Media Crackdown in Turkey
In the year 2010, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Human Rights Investigation Commission issued a report on its outcomes concerning the allegation that some of the news reports by Turkish Media had violated the presumption of innocence (Çataklar). The outcomes of this Commission were devastating to the Turkish Media. For instance, it criticized the media and their reporting methods.
The Commission accused the media of striving to be the first power rather than the fourth power. This was a source of concern for the Turkish government and society. The report noted that media continuously reported “fabricated news, violation of the right to respect for private life and the infringement of the presumption of innocence” (Çataklar).
According the report, “press freedom, freedom of opinion and expression and presumption of innocence should be exercised within the articles of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, Turkish Supreme Court decisions and judgments of the European Court of Human Rights”.
In this regard, the Commission summed up their concerns and suggested possible solutions to these problems. In its recommendations, the Commission claimed that it included “opinions of the media members and academics”. The content of this report could have sparked the outrageous government crackdown on the media and journalists.
Some of the Common Challenges to Journalists in Turkey
According to Freedom House, Turkey’s civil liberties rating has deteriorated from three to four. This has resulted from the ongoing pretrial detention of many people, including “Kurdish activists, journalists, union leaders, students, and military officers with charges that appear to be politically motivated”. This new rating suggests that Turkey is not only dangerous to journalists alone, but also other groups of citizens too.
Many publications, including an article by The Economist have highlighted that Turkey remains the most dangerous country for journalists (A dangerous place to be a journalist 1) because many journalists facing charges have covered news that the government considers sensitive and dangerous to national security.
For example, some journalists have covered issues related to police complicity in the murder of Hrant Dink, a journalist and the influence of the Gulenists within the security forces (A dangerous place to be a journalist).
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The most important point one should consider is the impact of detention of journalists on journalism, press freedom and free speech and expression. This is a step backward in the gains made in the media freedom and human rights. Turkish media are under pressure to be subservient and deferential to interests of the government yet no media should play such a role.
Thus, the case of Turkish media highlights vulnerability of journalists. In any society, journalists have the right to gather information and deliver the same to the public. These are core roles and principles, which guide journalism and its integrity as a profession.
Many organizations and the US have expressed their concerns about the state of media freedom in Turkey. In addition, Turks have also protested against the government’s actions. At the same time, several reports by various organizations with different mandates have documented the state of media freedom in Turkey.
They have noted that the major challenges relate to “government interference in media affairs, the structure of the media sector, firing or harassment of columnists, growing practice of self-censorship, and prosecution, detention and imprisonment of journalists over criminal and terrorism-related charges” (Onur). In addition, there are some other issues related to hate speech and the use of defamatory terms.
One major obstacle that many journalists and the media industry encounter in Turkey is the escalating cases related to “the government’s interference in media-related affairs”. In most cases, the Prime Minister and the ruling party, Justice and Development Party (AKP) have lashed out at different” journalists, columnists and newspapers because of their decisive position on critical affairs in the country”.
The Turkish government has used different but direct techniques to restrict media freedom in the country. For instance, the government has publicly criticized and condemned journalists and columnists. They have asked the public to boycott newspapers and only buy them from pro-government media houses.
In some instances, the government has forced many senior editors to eliminate some investigative pieces from their dailies or Web sites and exert pressure on media owners to dismiss some news commentators or columnists (Onur).
The Turkish government has claimed that negative media coverage of the government could have unprecedented, unwanted consequences for the economy because such news portrays the government in a negative manner and destroys the image of the ruling party.
Various actions of the government have forced journalists and columnists into a state of self-censorship. At the same time, journalists also face direct pressure from the government. Therefore, one may notice that many prominent columnists and journalists in Turkey were fired or had their contracts terminated. Most journalists affected were mainly fierce critics of the government.
The government has also resorted to filing libel lawsuits against some of the journalists. Yeni Akit is a pro-government newspaper. However, recent coverage of significant events by the media has led to serious concerns in the country and globally.
For instance, the daily has accused other parties of financing terrorists while it has increasingly published hate speech and targeted “Jews, Christians, Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, Alevis, the LGBT community and the government’s critics” (Onur).
The current state of the media market in Turkey has “encouraged the government interference in the industry”. The Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) has noted that more than “80 percent of the market is under the control of two pro-government media houses”. Onur claims that the inadequacy of the legal framework and regulations to support media cross-merger has hindered transparency in the industry.
In addition, the law restricts participation in tender processes and diversified investments. Consequently, the media industry has become highly polarized and structured. In this context, media owners have sacrificed public interests of receiving news because of business interests as they assist “the government in strengthening political power and fighting critics”. Therefore, the Turkish media cannot act as a watchdog for the public.
Prosecution, Imprisonment and Human Rights of Journalists
Perhaps the most outrageous aspects of the government’s attempts to restrict press freedom in Turkey are by arresting, detaining and prosecuting journalists (Franklin). Many reports have noted that Turkey remains the most dangerous country for journalists. Currently, more than 100 journalists have been arrested and detained.
A significant number of these journalists face charges related to being a part of terrorist groups, using propaganda to support terrorism or directly offering supports to terrorists (Bilefsky and Arsu). Many journalists have faced charges under specific, similar offenses. For instance, most cases relate to the infamous Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Case and the Ergenekon Case (Onur).
The government has been able to exploit legal loopholes to carry out mass prosecution of journalists. The Anti-Terror Law and the Turkish Criminal Code have provided such opportunities. In addition, several other journalists face trials for different offenses.
A report by the Organization for Security & Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) has shown that one journalist had 150 different Court cases. The high number of journalists in prisons has negatively affected the media industry in Turkey.
While Turkey has made significant reforms since the year 2000, serious challenges have persisted with regard to the freedom of speech and press freedom. The tendency of the Turkish government to interfere with press freedom has attracted the international attention, specifically when social media were blocked in the country. This is an alarming situation to journalists and media owners, including online media platforms.
Both the government and media owners have focused on business and undermined the role of the media in a democratic society. In addition, the use of laws on terrorism and legal loopholes in the constitution has forced journalists to practice self-censorship. Turkey had focused on building a democratic state that would lead others in the Gulf region and the Muslim community.
However, the country may not be able to realize this vision because of its poor records on press freedom and freedom of expression and opinions. Turkey, therefore, has contradicted its objective of promoting press freedom and building a stable democracy.
Turkey’s Social Media Crackdown
Human rights advocates in Turkey have a cause for concern ever since the government declared its strong stance against its critics, journalists and columnists (Eissenstat).
According to Eissenstat of Amnesty International USA, in the past months, there has been “a sharp decline in human rights conditions in Turkey”. The author argued that the situation could only escalate toward the presidential election to be conducted in August. This has been the case since the country banned YouTube and Twitter sites.
The government’s decision to censor the Internet resulted into widespread public protest in the country (Pierini and Mayr). The Internet has revolutionized information sharing. As a result, the Turkish authority has attempted to find various ways of regulating the Internet by focusing on religious, cultural and social issues.
Onur has cited the OSCE report, which noted that, “Turkey provides the broadest legal measures for blocking access to Web sites by specifying eleven different content-related crimes, but does not reveal the number of Web sites blocked” (Onur).
According to the Freedom House’s ranking, Turkey’s Internet is partly free while the European Commission refers to the censorship as disproportionate. At the same time, other prominent bodies have listed the ban as matters of concern. Reporters Without Borders had listed Turkey as an enemy of the Internet in its 2012 report.
One must not dismiss the role of the Internet, Web contents and social media in providing information to the public. Citizens understand the relevance and importance of news Web sites. Consumption of news on the online platforms has increased steadily with the increase in Internet accessibility through mobile devices.
Many Turks, therefore, rely on the Internet to receive news updates. Online news has become an alternative to many people. Therefore, the government’s decision to shut down Twitter and YouTube in Turkey was impairment to the media industry with impacts on press freedom and freedom of opinion and expression.
The Human Rights Watch has raised concerns that even after the Court order to restore Twitter access in Turkey, the social media platform has remained shut down (Human Rights Watch). Turkey’s Telecommunications Authority (TIB) blocked Twitter after a Court ruling on certain contents.
While the Court ordered the Telecommunications Communication Directorate to unblock the account, the agency is yet to comply with the Court ruling. This highlights impunity and disregard for the rule of law and press freedom.
While users have relied on proxy sites to receive YouTube and Twitter contents, all these other proxy sites have also been blocked. As a result, many international bodies, including the UN have criticized Turkey for stifling press freedom (Human Rights Watch).
The government has strived to look for new ways of empowering the Telecommunications Directorate to block social media sites and target specific contents as happened in February 2014.
There were such previous attempts on Google sites in the year 2012 in which the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of the company. The Court claimed that blocking such sites violated the right to freedom of expression.
Only a single post from an individual led the Turkish Court to order the blockage of Google sites, but the European Court of Human Rights established that Turkey lacked an effective and adequate legal framework to monitor social media platforms.
The government of Turkey has failed to honor such rulings from the European Court of Human Rights. Instead, the country has concentrated on introducing new ways of restricting access to news Web sites.
A rights discourse, communication rights, human rights and media
The Organization for Security & Co-Operation in Europe has clearly stated that by blocking access to social media platforms, Turkey deliberately disregards the fundamental right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media (Organization for Security & Co-Operation in Europe). This is a violation of human rights.
Any regulator that blocks media and inhibits the free flow of news and press freedom on both online and offline platforms also breaches several OSCE standards and international conventions it has sworn to protect. In addition, Amnesty International has reported that the government has started to arrest human rights lawyers with 15 of them currently in detention (Amnesty International).
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), certain Turkey’s pro-government media have released disturbing reports with false claims against it (Committee to Protect Journalists). On this regard, CPJ has realized that the Turkish government has embarked on a strategy of attacking its fierce critics rather than addressing issues of press freedom, communication rights and human rights.
The fundamental sources of concerns are “communication rights and freedom of opinion and expression and human rights”. On this note, CPJ has written a letter to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which details its “profound concerns about Turkey’s anti-press policies, including the jailing of journalists, the censorship of social media, and adoption of restrictive legislation” (Committee to Protect Journalists).
CPJ noted in its latest prison census that Turkey had held 40 journalists in prison. This number made Turkey to be the world’s leading country with the highest number of journalists in prison.
It has also attracted widespread condemnation of the government (Burch). However, the government released nearly half of the journalists and the number reduced to 21. Iran and China also have a significant number of journalists behind bars (Committee to Protect Journalists).
Most observers have claimed that Turkey’s crackdown on the media, journalists and press freedom had reached a point of crisis because it has the highest number of jailed journalists and restrictive media laws.
The Turkish government has embarked on constant introduction of new laws, legal prosecution, widespread intimidation of columnists, media owners and columnists and broad offensive to stifle meaningful journalism and communication rights in the country.
According to CPJ report, there are certain articles in the penal code, which give “authorities wide berth to use journalists’ professional work to link them to banned political movements or alleged plots” (Committee to Protect Journalists).
On the same note, Greenslade has noted that the government uses some articles frequently to “criminalize basic newsgathering activities, such as talking to security officials or obtaining documents” (Greenslade). In most cases, Turkey has related “journalism with terrorism”. This is an accepted practice in a democratic state and therefore it undermines the fight against terrorism and the country’s security issues.
Most rights discourses have called upon the Prime Minister to stop attacks on the press and instead concentrate on developing a fair process for the detained journalists (Global Network Initiative). At the same time, he should pursue reforms to ensure press freedom and freedom of opinion and expression.
Given the flawed nature of laws of communication in Turkey, Reporters Without Borders has noted that the Turkish judicial system often conducts political case analyses rather legal and judicial ones (Reporters Without Borders).
For example, if journalists present critical views on the Kurdish issue, “prosecutors and judges tend to conclude that they therefore share the views of the Kurdistan Workers Party and must be guilty of membership of this armed separatist organization” (Reporters Without Borders).
Consequently, several organizations have urged the Turkish judicial system to respect the international conventions in which Turkey is a party. Such conventions clearly define freedom of expression, which may only be restricted in cases of hate messages or violence, but this is not the case in Turkey.
On the same note, OSCE and the Council of Europe have asked Turkey to stop relying on jail as a means of restricting press freedom. Today, many organizations and advocates have called for the release of jailed journalists in Turkey.
Specifically, these bodies have focused on journalists who have been jailed because of their newsgathering roles. It is imperative for the government to address press freedom and allow journalists to do their duties. This process, however, requires inputs from all stakeholders so that they can find and implement long-lasting solutions.
Human rights activists such as Zafer Üskül have asserted that any obstacles that prevent the public from gaining access to news are clear human rights violations (Bozkurt). Press freedom allows the public to access news and any attempts to challenge such rights indicate serious problems. On this note, Bozkurt noted that political leaders have the responsibility of defending and protecting free media.
Media Policy and Press Freedom
After the economic crisis of 2001, Turkey embarked on media freedom reforms, which included media ownership restructuring (Kurban and Sözeri 52). The crisis affected many media companies that had invested in the financial sector too. As a result, the need to secure business tenders led to “social manipulation to voluntary censorship in the whole sector” (Kurban and Sözeri 52).
As a result, today’s media industry in Turkey is grappling with pressure from “the government and its agencies, as well as challenges from its own capital structures and poor ideological choices” (Kurban and Sözeri 52).
The situation has become unbearable because these changes have affected democratic processes in Turkey negatively. Moreover, press freedom, freedom of expression and media laws are foreign to the country. This implies that Turkish government and its agencies may not be conversant with effective media policies, which require inclusion and transparency in a democratic state (Ziomek 67; Plaisance 187).
Turkey should create democratic, independent media. The media can then act as civilian supervisors on bureaucratic and politic processes and ensure protection of public interests.
This process, however, requires significant changes in the legal framework of Turkey and media training (Young 38). At the same time, there should be changes in the media ownership structure and implement laws that facilitate competition in the industry.
Media Ethics in Turkey
The development in the global information society provides an imperative opportunity of enhancing equal and sustainable development in media ethics, specifically in countries with poor press freedom and human rights.
In this context, Jorgensen has observed that the revolution in information and communication technology should focus on ways in which the information society can either advance human rights around the world or threaten them (Jorgensen 34). In the case of Turkey, one can only observe how social media platforms have threatened human rights.
A report by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Human Rights Investigation Commission 2010 established serious allegations against the Turkish media. For instance, there were cases of “fabricated news, violation of the right to respect for private life and the infringement of the presumption of innocence” (Çataklar).
At the same time, Kurban and Sözeri found that the “tabloidization of news and violations of professional rules of ethics through inconsistent and even fictitious news in the Turkish media were the outcomes of ‘the industry’s fierce competition in the rating war” (52).
These findings from various studies and investigations show that the Turkish media industry lacks professionalism and media ethics. The industry operates in a highly polarized environment occasioned by political divisions that have affected various media and journalists’ groups. These challenges have prevented any meaningful collaboration and efforts to promote self-regulation.
While Turkey has the Press Council to oversee media operations, its independence and inputs in the industry remain highly contested. Media owners are a member of the Council, but they have claimed that state interference and differences in ideologies have affected its operations.
As a result, the Press Council represents few media owners and lacks a significant support from the media community. The Press Council of Turkey can no longer provide fair representation for media owners because it has remained controversial just like its current leadership.
Social media and technologies have provided new opportunities for Turks to gain access to “alternative news information beyond what the traditional mainstream media could offer” (Kurban and Sözeri 52). The Independent Communication Network is a body established in 1997 and strives to monitor the media and ensure freedom and independent journalism in the country.
The Network has strived to establish professionalism in journalism in Turkey. It provides training, publishes books and organizes media conferences, forums and other exchange programs. This organization receives funds from various European agencies to promote media ethics in Turkey.
Online media channels have however presented new forms of challenges to journalism and media ethics. For instance, there are cases of “copy-paste’ news from the mainstream media outlets or other new agencies” (Kurban and Sözeri 52).
The Turkish government has attempted to introduce some draconian laws to control online media. For instance, it intended to introduce new regulations for online media and provide specific identification cards to online journalists (Kurban and Sözeri 52). This approach has raised serious press freedom issues in a country that is aggressive toward journalists.
In a response to this move, the Alternative Informatics Association launched “the Internet needs freedom, not press cards’ campaign to criticize the government’s initiative as an attempt of censorship and control of the media” (Kurban and Sözeri 52). In a quick turn of events, the Turkish government has referred to social media as platforms for crimes, violence, chaos and disorder (Human Rights Observers).
In most case, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has often accused social media of causing unrest and branding Twitter as a ‘troublemaker’, and accusing the online messaging service of spreading ‘lies’. Further, he insisted that the Internet inflames the riots and defames government officials, which are both real and virtual crimes irrespective of the medium (Human Rights Observers).
Such statements show that Turkey does not have any real legal framework for handling irresponsible journalism and relies on authoritative Press Laws to ban social media. In addition, the government is reluctant to formulate laws that will regulate online media channels.
The press freedom crisis in Turkey from moral and ethical points of view
One may look at the press freedom crisis in Turkey from moral and ethical points of view in order to identify differences. It is imperative to recognize that no form of governments irrespective of their leadership styles should operate in secrecy. Individuals value their personal privacy and confidentiality.
Nevertheless, journalists disclose information due to public interests, which is imperative for their integrity and professionalism. Only vigorous inquiry and transparency can provide liberty and democracy that many countries pursue, but the Turkish government’s approach to press freedom has created media crisis that raises moral and ethical concerns.
The main role of journalism is to provide the public with the information they need to be free and self-governing. Information is power and journalism helps to distribute this power to the people.
Perhaps this role has elicited fear in the Turkish government because “shared power is safer and more beneficial to society than concentrated power” (Ethics, Morals and Journalism). The role of journalism, therefore, is beneficial to society and powerful too, but requires ethical decision-making (Fawley).
As noted earlier, journalists in Turkey have shown disregard for media ethics. They have abused their power by publishing fabricated news and failed to use their freedom responsibly to provide the truth to citizens. They are unable to balance responsibility and freedom and therefore lack “personal sense of ethics and responsibility–a moral compass” (Principles of Journalism).
Moral growth emanates from community practices, but not conflict while ethics originates from individual choices and decisions and therefore, individuals can learn to be ethical (Ethics, Morals and Journalism). Societal morals originate from cultural practices, which form laws and means of control. Therefore, ethics and morals lead to a comparison between individuals and society.
For journalists, common sense accounts in journalism as Glasser and Ettema (512) had noted. In this sense, journalists must be able to differentiate between right and wrong practices (Glasser and Ettema 515 – 516).
Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Douglas Frantz has claimed that what Turkish government is doing to the media can be found in a Turkish proverb, which is “you don’t burn the sheep to kill one flea” (Frantz). The US government has raised concerns that Turkey is among many countries that have tried to shut the Internet despite reforms it gained since the year 2001.
While Frantz recognizes that the number of jailed journalism has declined, still there is a need for freedom of expression and press freedom. He asserts that journalism is not a crime and the government should not confuse journalism with criminal activities.
Specifically, the social media have raised concerns. The Turkish government has tried to ban the social media. Banning social media is a blunt approach, which “punishes the technology not the individuals who are misusing the technology” (Frantz). Hence, one can draw the difference between moral (society) and ethics (individual) based on the Turkish media crisis.
Elaine Scarry highlights these philosophical perspectives by showing that it is difficult for individuals to notice pain in others and therefore avoid aggravating the same pain (Scarry 39). Scarry has focused on violence and cruelty toward foreigners and this reflects actions of Turkish government on journalists. It shows that the Turkish government sees journalists as foreigners who are interfering with state affairs.
The government has not fully understood media principles or recognized journalists. As a result, it can inflict pain on journalists through imprisonment and detention. If the government understood the principles of journalism, then it would not be able to ban social media and imprison journalists.
In this regard, violence and cruelty against media houses and columnists result from the failure to recognize these entities and individuals as real. Scarry notes that “the best solution to the problem of cruelty to strangers combines spontaneous imagining with legal equality and enfranchisement” (Scarry 53).
Therefore, political equality should facilitate social equality, press freedom and freedom of expression. Under such conditions, variations do not reflect inequality. The Turkish government aims to ensure conformity by stifling the media. Scarry notes that political equality encourages toleration, and “to tolerate others is to make room for them in one’s imagining”(p. 55).
Constitutional and legal framework changes in Turkey should improve imagination of citizens and press freedom and freedom of opinion to allow citizens to maintain social unity and solidarity. Nevertheless, Scarry points out that any changes in legal frameworks and structures cannot guarantee that strangers will receive “a full measure of attention and adequate imagining” (Scarry 40-62).
In other words, these instruments cannot guarantee safety of journalists yet laws aim to provide standards for fair treatment for citizens and hold them accountable. Hence, structures of laws may fail but a structure of sentiment can achieve much (Scarry 58).
Sentiments come from individuals and define ethics. Margalit notes that ethics should define individual ties with whom they have special relations with while morality should reflect societal obligations to humanity (147).
From Margalit’s perspective, past events are critical and should help individuals to remember specific people whereas the community should have such collective memories. In this regard, it would be imperative to understand how Turks would remember the government that banned social media, jailed journalists and restricted press freedom and abused human rights.
Turks have the obligation to remember their government because it has abused people, undermined human rights and morality altogether. Such memories should be used to alienate citizens from past cruel memories and reconcile them rather than seek for revenge (Margalit 149).
Summary of the Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations
Summary of the Findings
Turkey’s attempts to restrict press freedom and freedom of expression and opinion have negative impacts on the state. At the same time, they do not help in the fight against terror. The Turkish government, therefore, must take initiatives and improve its record on Press Laws and human rights.
Government interference with media affairs is rampant and serious. Perhaps the most serious case involves imprisonment of journalists under flimsy charges, including accusation of being a member of terrorism groups.
Social media crackdown in Turkey is an attack on the entire technology industry. Instead, the government should concentrate on specific elements that it believes are responsible for chaos and disorder.
Media owners and journalists in Turkey lack media ethics. They fabricate news and violate privacy and confidentiality. The focus on politics and business has led to poor ethics in journalism.
By highlighting moral and ethics, one can draw a clear distinction between moral and ethical community. The Turkish government has treated journalists as foreigners and criminals.
The research has established that Turkey’s strategies and efforts to restrict press freedom have resulted in poor rating for the country and therefore, the government must take corrective measures.
Many institutions have released several reports, which show that press freedom, freedom of opinion and human rights are deteriorating in Turkey because of the arrested journalists. The government’s attempts to convince the public and the world have failed though the number of jailed journalists has declined.
The concepts of press freedom, human rights and freedom of expression seem foreign to Turkey. It is not clear how the Turkish government intends to handle the issue of media crisis and improve the current situation because all its approaches have resulted in negative outcomes.
The fight against terror should not lead to media restriction. A reliable judicial process should help the government to identify terror suspects among the arrested journalists. This process, however, requires judicial reforms because the current system has failed to achieve reliable outcomes.
The government must allow civil societies, academics and media owners to participate in such reform processes. In addition, the Turkish government should accept external assistance to facilitate the required reforms.
Turkey needs all these stakeholders to help it to create a stable democracy and promote peace within its borders. Such reforms will improve Turkey’s ranking among the international community and promote its image and influence. At the same time, the media industry and journalists also should embark on reforms and training to understand media ethics.
Currently, there are serious ethical and moral concerns among Turkish journalists because they are engaged in fabricating news. Common sense should guide journalists to decide on right or wrong practices and present the truth to the public. This is the fundamental role of the media in any country.
Press freedom is essential for a democratic society. Nevertheless, press freedom is not unlimited and therefore, journalists must use common sense and observe freedom and responsibility. This calls for moral and ethics in journalism. The presumption of innocence is fundamental right in the Turkish constitution. It is imperative for media owners, the government and the judicial system to cooperate on determining issues of ethical concerns.
The legal framework and the Court system require reforms so that the judiciary should not treat journalists’ cases as political ones. Information should be shared within the law.
Media owners must consider changes in capital and ownership structures in the entire Turkish media industry. The current model is business driven and has created monopoly in the media industry. Moreover, the industry has become pro-government. The media industry should not serve the interests of the government. Instead, it should represent all stakeholders in society.
Judges and prosecutors need training on media and public relations. Likewise, journalists too require training programs on coverage of legal affairs.
Turkey must formulate laws for the Internet and social media immediately. The government should desist from authoritative approaches when dealing with social media. So far, its actions have been detrimental and abusive. It is imperative to remember that media laws are almost similar irrespective of the platform used.
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