Gezi Park Protests Push Turkey’s Media into the Spotlight (Updated)

By now, you’ll have heard – perhaps via international media, or on Twitter or Facebook – about the protests that started in defence of one of Istanbul’s last remaining green spaces, and have now, in response to heavy-handed policing and broader worries about democratic rights, spread across many cities in Turkey

I’ve been following the torrent of communication and coverage on Twitter mainly via a mixture of local and international academics, NGO people and journalists – ranging from Asli Tunç, Yaman Akdeniz, Zeynep Tufekci (who has also blogged a rapid, excellent analysis), and Burcu Baykurt [UPDATE: Burcu has written a very comprehensive post detailing the main media reform issues emerging from the Gezi Park protest movement] to Aaron SteinBenjamin Harvey, Hugh Pope and Amberin Zaman – as well as feeds like 140 Journos. (Feel free to tweet me or @mediapolicy with further suggestions.)

One of the most widely discussed (on Twitter) aspects of these protests has been the mainstream Turkish media’s perceived failure to cover the protests fairly, adequately, or in some cases at all, leading Bloomberg’s Benjamin Harvey to tweet the following:

Turks being confronted with the now-undeniable deficiencies of their media may be one of the most important aspects of these protests.

In report after report after report [UPDATE: 3 June 2013 - see comment below for further resources], those deficiencies – and the reasons for them – have been thoroughly, exhaustively anatomised. Asli Tunç and Vehbi Görgülü’s Mapping Digital Media Turkey report (2012), for example, gives a very comprehensive overview of the Turkish media sector and its travails, and is part of a 50-country series that mediapolicy.org readers know well. The Carnegie report (also supported by OSF) by Marc Pierini and Markus Mayr on Press Freedom in Turkey, takes a different approach. Introducing the report in January 2013, Pierini wrote:

I didn’t conduct yet another inquiry into press freedom. More modestly, I analyzed all the reports published on the subject by governmental and non-governmental, Turkish and foreign entities during the last two years. Although they had different focuses and methodologies, all these reports convey one single image: Turkey’s record is bad because it fares well below the country’s democratic credentials and is hurting the nation economically and diplomatically on the international scene.

One has to hope that the Gezi Park crisis will lead in some way to genuine reforms in Turkey’s media policy and media sector, freeing journalism to play a stronger role in the country’s democracy. As Turkey is one of mediapolicy.org‘s focus countries, we’ll definitely follow developments and build up useful resources over the coming weeks and months. We’d love to hear from academics, researchers, civil society and journalists interested in sharing perspectives on media policy and reform in Turkey – please get in touch on email or Twitter

2 comments
  1. Sameer Padania said:

    The European MEDIADEM media policy research project covers Turkey as one of its focus countries. The research partner, TESEV (http://www.tesev.org.tr/ & http://www.mediadem.eliamep.gr/consortium/turkey/), has produced two standalone reports and a set of policy recommendations as part of the research:

    – Esra Elmas and Dilek Kurban (2010) – http://www.mediadem.eliamep.gr/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Turkey.pdf
    – Dilek Kurban, Ceren Sözeri (2011) – http://www.mediadem.eliamep.gr/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Turkey.pdf
    – Dilek Kurban’s recommendations for media policy reform in Turkey (2012)
    — (Turkish) http://www.mediadem.eliamep.gr/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Turkey.pdf
    — (English) http://www.mediadem.eliamep.gr/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/D4.1.pdf#page=108

    TESEV ran a related one-day conference in Turkey in November 2012: http://www.mediadem.eliamep.gr/media-in-the-claws-of-market-power-and-ownership-freedom-of-the-press-in-turkey/ (The Council of Europe held a similarly-themed event in February 2013: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/execution/themes/hrtf/tables_rondes/conf_ankara_2013_EN.asp)

    TESEV also runs Turkey Constitution Watch, and posted an analysis of the Freedom of Expression issues in party proposals for the redraft of Turkey’s constitution here: http://turkeyconstitutionwatch.org/index.php/the-new-constitution-and-the-freedom-of-expression-levent-piskin/ (and in Turkish here: http://anayasaizleme.org/index.php/yeni-anayasa-ve-ifade-ozgurlugu-levent-piskin/)

    Access Info Europe is conducting a project looking into media ownership transparency in 20 countries in and around Europe, including Turkey – more here, including initial findings:
    http://www.access-info.org/en/media-transparency

    Linked above, but not mentioned by name is last month’s report by the Center for American Progress – timed for Erdogan’s visit to the US – on press freedom in Turkey:
    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/report/2013/05/14/63159/freedom-of-the-press-and-expression-in-turkey/

    SEEMO’s Istanbul Media Days conference will take place in December 2013, and is sure to build on the ground covered by these reports and others mentioned in the text of the post: http://www.istanbulmediadays.org/

    And here’s a snippet from Hurriyet about funding for NGOs and media to look at EU integration issues – perhaps some of this might go on media pluralism research…: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-eu-ministry-set-to-fund-ngos-media.aspx?pageID=238&nID=47569&NewsCatID=338

    In terms of other sources on media news in Turkey, there’s a good selection on Turkey Press Freedom’s links page: http://seemo.org/turkeypress/links.html (although not yet CPJ – http://www.cpj.org/europe/turkey/).

    As ever, please do help us out with further links if you know of relevant resources.

  2. mediapolicy.org said:

    The European research project COST – Transforming Audiences (http://www.cost-transforming-audiences.eu/) is holding a conference in Istanbul on new media and participation in November 2013 (http://www.cost-transforming-audiences.eu/node/1356). Affiliated researchers have produced the following papers as part of the project:

    Kejanlioglu, B. (2011) “A Review of Research on the Public Sphere and Audience Participation in Turkey” – http://www.cost-transforming-audiences.eu/node/662 (and direct link to PDF: http://www.cost-transforming-audiences.eu/system/files/pub/cost%20output.pdf)

    Kejanlioglu, B., B. Çoban, B. Yanıkkaya & M. Emre Köksalan (2012) – “The User as Producer in Alternative Media? The Case of the Independent Communication Network” in Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 37(2), pp275-296. – [paywalled] http://www.cost-transforming-audiences.eu/node/1140 AND http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/commun.2012.37.issue-3/commun-2012-0015/commun-2012-0015.xml?format=INT

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