Online news portal T24's Editor-in-Chief Doğan Akın has complained about the growing government control over the media, saying that criticism of the government is labeled “fitna” (evil) today while real journalism is called “coup plotting.”
Akın's remarks appeared in an exclusive interview in the Bugün daily on Sunday.
Noting that there have always been problematic relations between the media and government in Turkey, Akın said: “The same continues today. Some writers have said, ‘We will not let you finish off our chief [President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan].' Criticism has been labeled ‘fitna' while journalism has become ‘coup plotting'.”
Akın said former Prime Minister Erdoğan has become someone who is closed to any questioning and criticism. When asked about the reason for this, he said: “No one person has remained in power for 12 years in Turkey. Didn't [former Prime Minister] Tansu Çiller have a tendency to impose pressure on the media? Yes. She even attempted to establish a newspaper called Öncü. But she did not have enough political power to see conclusive results.”
“The European Union's last two progress reports stated that the fact that there are business groups that conduct business in other fields in addition to media was one of the obstacles to freedom of expression. Most media bosses invest out of fear and pressure. Most of their jobs are not [in the field of] journalism. This opens paths [for them] in other sectors. For years, such bosses have been saying they have experienced financial losses due to their newspapers or TV stations. They don't. There are things you earn if you make those dreadful publications,” he said.
Akın is of the belief that Kemalism, which is known to give priority to statism, a powerful role for the army and little room for opposition and dissent, is still in power today. “We were talking about Kemalism's social engineering following [Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk [the founder of the Turkish Republic]. Now, there is talk of raising a 'pious generation' and [enacting] moral reformations. Is there any difference between Kemalism's interference in the freedom to wear a headscarf and today's interference in people's freedom of expression and lifestyles?" he asked.
T24 is known to have a critical stance on the government, particularly since an investigation implicating several individuals close to the government went public on Dec. 17. When asked whether this has led to the news portal losing revenues from advertisements, Akın said only two companies withdrew advertisements from the news portal after Dec. 17 and that it was not a big loss.
Originally published - Today's Zaman
Editor's note: T24 and P24 are some of MYMEDIA main partners in Turkey.