The Association of Journalists has released two important reports; “Report on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press, Status 2018” and “Report on the Change of Media Ownership Structure and its Effects.”
The reports underlined that freedom of expression, and its corollaries press freedom and freedom of information, is indispensable for countries characterized by democratic governance.
In other highlights the reports stressed:
In representative democracies people choose delegates to exercise sovereignty on their behalf. Absence of the freedom of expression – together with accurate and adequate information – inhibits people’s knowledge and awareness as they elect their representatives. Thus, in modern democracies these freedoms are regarded as inalienable and fundamental, much like the right to life.
The right to freedom of expression – which has recently been expanded to include the social media – is legally guaranteed and monitored by local and international regulations and conventions.
Mass communication devices, also known as “the Media”, play an integral role in providing information to the public on daily national and international affairs.
The media helps people to understand the developments that shape the public opinion. In this context, the media stands as a safeguard for a healthy democratic system as it gives room for the discussion of ideas and opinions on the news in an independent and pluralistic way. Mass media is important in terms of its owners protecting their interests against political powers.
For the party in power, mass media is important in terms of reproducing and sustaining its power, rendered possible by the mutually beneficial relationships that the party forms with the media owners.
Since the media plays a critical role in the formation of public opinion and safeguarding of democracy, the ownership of communication and transmission – that is, media ownership – gains utmost importance.
Controlling information presented to the public and manipulating or preventing its distribution play an integral role in shaping, changing, and sustaining the status quo.
Ensuring a significant degree of pluralism is the first step that needs to be taken in order to facilitate the formation of a democratic and independent public opinion.
In a democratic system, it should be possible for the individuals in power to be freely criticized.
The coup attempt on 15 July 2016 was unsuccessful; however, the subsequent events brought about significant issues concerning the freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
After Doğan Media Group changed hands in March 2018, the prevailing idea was that “mainstream media has become history”. Apart from a few low circulating opposition newspapers and TV channels, the country’s media was severely restricted, either directly or indirectly in accordance with the political will, and outlets of criticism were severely limited.
Politicians and employers’ hostility toward journalists, long prison sentences and fines, being unable to find employment since the 2016 coup attempt, have resulted in 4000 journalists losing their jobs along with making it impossible for them to work freely and ethically.
Only in 2018, two newspapers – Habertürk and Vatan – and one news agency – – Anka News Agency – were shut down, and 700 journalists were left unemployed. Due to the intimidating atmosphere, journalists are concerned about their job security and future. This has resulted in the prevention of journalists from producing news freely, and has normalized self-censorship