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Turkish Journalists do not Believe In The Freedom Of The Press

Tuesday 6 May 2008, by Emine Özcan

Journalists do not draw a picture of a “contemporary” country, when it comes to the freedom of the press and the way the journalists are treated in Turkey.

Today is the World Press Freedom Day…Bianet interviewed journalists from local and national media. While Mete Çubukçu from NTV points out that “This year May Day spoke for May 3 World Press Freedom Day in Turkey by the way the journalists were treated”, Erkan Çapraz of Yüksekovahabercom, who is under investigation for Article 301, says that “Like these investigations, we face many obstacles while making the news. The strange thing is that we are not baffled anymore”.

Burcu Taner from Ege Telgraf Gazetesi says that “From the perspective of the freedom of expression, there is a better chance of being creative in the local media compared to the national media.

Quit working in the national media just recently, Aysel Kılıç believes that there is no freedom of the press, adding “Neither a state nor any power likes to have its own truths revealed, nor enjoy facing an opposition”.

Çubukçu: Attacks on journalists, loss of social rights and Article 301

Çubukçu shows as an example what happened in Taksim during the most recent May Day:

“This year May Day spoke for May 3 World Press Freedom Day. The fact that especially the journalists were targeted shows the kind of mentality, the kind of perspective shared in regards to the journalists.”

Saying “above all, the abrogation of the social rights or some of them and the insistence on this shows how the politicians look at the issue”, Çubukçu touches upon Article 301:
“When we add together Article 301 and everything we experience, we get a picture of how the media is seen in Turkey.”

Çapraz: Investigations became ordinary obstacles

Çapraz, a journalist from Yüksekova in Southeastern Turkey, who is under investigation for violating Article 301 because of an article he wrote about Newroz, Iranic new year, which is mostly celebrated by Kurds in Turkey, says that “mostly we are faced with obstacles from bureaucrats and military authorities. They have opened many investigations until now. All of this is intimidation, a warning.”

According to Çapraz, obstacles of this sort restrict the field of their work.

“But we are only doing our job. The strange thing is that we got used to them. These investigations became everyday occurrences. We are not too concerned with them.”

Taner : The local media is alive, but the national media is like a prerecorded broadcast

Çapraz, a journalist from Ege Telgraf of İzmir thinks that the things can be much better in the local media.

“I think the local media creates a larger field. There is auto control as well as censorship. I liken the national media to a prerecorded broadcast, but the local media to a live show.”

However, Taner also points out that there are many problems associated with local media’s need to depend on ads and announcements for income, “but a good reporter finds a way around them, if he/she tries hard enough.”

Her biggest complaint is that on the one hand she finds it difficult to crack the established language of the news language practices and on the other hand, because she is a female journalist, it is difficult for her to be the subject in the relationship she forms with the source of the news.
Kılıç: Freedom of the Press is in the books

Kılıç, who left his job just recently, thinks that the freedom of the press is in the books.

“In a system where media is so monopolized, it is not possible to talk of the freedom of the press. Today we cannot expect the ruling powers, which do everything to prevent a journalist from finding the news and even having access to it, to tolerate to the emerging of a publication free of their control. It is not realistic.”

Kılıç also shows the Taksim May Day celebrations as an example: I was in Taksim with my camera. Like my colleagues, I too was manhandled. I think the interfering with the freedom of the press is not only in Turkey, but exists all over the world. Neither a state nor any power likes to have its own truths revealed, nor enjoy facing an opposition”. (EZÖ/TB)

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Source : Bia news service, 03-05-2008

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