Esra Arsan presented a paper titled “Killing me softly with his words: Censorship and self-censorship in Turkish news media” at MECCSA Watching the Media: Censorship, limits and control in creative practice symposium. The symposium was held on 15 April at the University of Edge Hill, Liverpool, UK. Here is the abstract of the paper.
Paper title: Killing me softly with his words: The impact of censorship and self-censorship on Turkish journalists
Turkey is a country where democratization process has been repeatedly interrupted by the military interventions in the past 50 years. Because of the weak parliamentary representations followed by the oppressive coup periods, censorship and self-censorship has become an ordinary practice in the news media. Still, although a democratically elected government is in charge in the country, the press censorship is common as a systematic method to silence the alternative views. It is also claimed that self-censorship is quite widespread within the Turkish press. According to Freedom House’s 2010 report, Turkish officials continue to strictly enforce laws and journalists are frequently jailed for discussing the Kurds, the military or political Islam. The government, led by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is continuing to crack down on unfavorable press coverage. A tax authority controlled by the Finance Ministry fined one of the country’s major media companies, the Dogan Group, 826 million lira (US$537 million) in February 2009 and 3.7 billion lira (US$2.4 billion) in September for purported tax evasion. The Dogan Group has consistently reported on the ruling party’s shortcomings and involvement in an Islamic charity scandal in 2008, and the tax case was widely viewed as politicized.When asked about the censorship and self-censorship in the media, a prominent Turkish journalist Mr. Sedat Ergin says: “Look, you do not get to see corruption stories in the Turkish press as often as you could a while back. This is partly due to the fact that a sizeable portion of the press downplay at that, deliberately ignores stories of this nature, and willingly gives up on its right to criticize, while positioning itself close to the government.” In this paper, I will give a brief background on how and why particular news stories is being censored in Turkey, and I will share the results of a survey which is conducted with the representatives of Turkish journalists.