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We started covering the news in earnest in January of 2012. We skipped our college classes to attend trials and protests, and we shared via social media photographs, audio and video recordings, and reports of what we witnessed. We covered leftist factions supporting arrested journalists, radical Islamic groups protesting abortion, and a trial involving game-fixing by one of the nation’s favorite football clubs. We were so new to all this that when a Turkish media critic told us we were engaged in “citizen journalism,” we had to look up the term on Wikipedia. Months later, Zeynep Tufekci, a Turkish-born professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill who studies the intersection of technology and society, told me, “This is not ‘citizen journalism.’ This is ‘journalistic citizenship.’” Journalistic citizenship is an important model, not just for my country but for other countries where people aren’t getting the news they need.

Reflecting on how events have unfolded in the past year, some have been driven to despair that the spark of hope ignited by the Gezi movement has been extinguished. An unrelenting government has become even more hostile towards opposition with its last electoral victory, taken as a “vindication of the national will”. Nonetheless, as we witness the divorce of democracy and individual liberties in the political scene, there is another dynamic at play. The Gezi movement has instigated an irreversible grassroots socialisation, which still finds expression in daily life—through local forums, civic initiatives and a process of deliberation across different social cleavages. It has paved the way for greater political awareness and cultivated democratic values of civic involvement.

If you happen to be in Turkey and are interested in soccer, I recommend that you tune in to DigiTurk, the channel that broadcasts soccer games nationally every week. During the games of the “Big 3” (the major teams representing Istanbul: Besiktas, Galatasaray, and Fenerbache), pay particular attention to the 34th minute [1] of the game. There will not be any sound. You will think that a technical failure has occurred or that the fervent fans have decided to stop chanting all of a sudden. You are wrong, because fans critical of the government’s [2] attempts to transform Gezi Parki into something else (a military barracks and a shopping mall) are chanting anti-government slogans and DigiTurk has silenced the service for which you have paid.

The Taksim Square Protests and Media Control – Murat Akser of Kadir Has University talking about media consolidation and concentration of ownership in Turkey, while the Gezi Park protests were still in full swing earlier this year (via the Media Reform Coalition)

The AKP is gradually bringing young, tech-savvy party members to Ankara to train them in classrooms to act as volunteer “social-media representatives.” The youth will be charged with sharing news and images, mainly on Twitter and Facebook, but also on Instagram and YouTube, that promote the party perspective and monitor online discussions, a party official said. “We aim at developing a positive political language which we are teaching to our volunteers,” said a senior party official responsible for organizing the campaign. “And when the opposing camp spreads disinformation about the party, we correct them with valid information, always using positive language.” The government declined to provide the names of any participants, suggesting it didn’t want to compromise their privacy.