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KADRİ GÜRSEL

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KADRİ GÜRSEL >Killing journalism

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I have been writing in this column since 2007.

I did not parachute into this column; it was not the mighty hand of the current political power that made it possible for me to have this column. When I started writing, I had the experience, accumulation of information and perspective of views gained over 21 years spent in the local and international media as a reporter, editor and administrator.

I always saw myself as a member of the profession, and I conducted journalism only for the sake of journalism. I only fought for press freedom.

Now, as a journalist who has turned 50 years of age and approaching 30 years at work, I am watching the killing of my profession, journalism, with shame.

This is a murder of democracy committed quietly but systematically, spreading over time. Eliminating press freedom means eliminating democracy.

There is no place for press freedom, therefore true journalism, in the authoritarian regime and society model that is being constructed by the current political elites, who have a totalitarian worldview.

The political power in government cannot tolerate in the mainstream media the presence of independent and honest professional journalists, or a publishing approach that cares about journalism.

The media of the political power is directed from one center. The only area of competition among those in the media is who will reflect the political rhetoric dictated by the government and the information given to them each day in the most striking way in newspapers and broadcasts.

There is no issue of news competition among reporters in this media. Whether operational or political, one or more “official” reporter or columnist is appointed for each process.

You will not hear the names of others. They write the information and the dossier given to them by the center, in the way the center wants. You therefore cannot have a new generation of true journalists coming from the government media.

What they do is secretarial work.

One or two journalists who matured in the Islamist press when it was still the opposition have turned, over time, into apparatchiks and avatars just like the others.

While the political power kills its own media before birth by making journalism impossible, it has also been eliminating, since 2008, mainstream media that is not under its hands.

It has used various methods: Huge tax fines, calls for boycotts, advertisement embargos, seizing media outlets and transferring their ownership to supporters, publication bans, targeting journalists in rallies, having journalists fired, imprisoning and frustrating legal cases on insult claims, targeting opposition journalists with social media trolls, cultivating Internet sites and columnists who are tasked with scaring and intimidating…

The hitmen in the media are especially creating increasing threats on whatever is left in Turkey in terms of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

A number of obscure personalities with no journalistic past or references are being given columns in the government-run media, and their only joy is to target journalists who express critical or opposing views with claims and smear campaigns that go beyond reason.

Accusing every journalist who objects to government policies of being a spy or doing intelligence work indicates a sick mind. What is even more worrying in terms of the future of our freedoms and democracy is the fact that people with the paranoid and plot-prone mentality typical of small groups - which until the recent past were on the political sidelines - and today threatening and targeting journalists that are not liked by the government without any limit or obstacles.

February/20/2015

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