Freelance journalists in Turkey increasingly worried about their financial security: report

Freelance journalists in Turkey, who are already working under difficult political conditions, are also increasingly worried about their financial security as the country’s media faces significant commercial pressures, with devaluation fueling record inflation for 20 years, said Turkish Media reportedciting Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2022.

The report says that many newspapers in Turkey, which are facing declining revenues and rising paper and other costs, as the Turkish lira has fallen nearly 50% against the US dollar over the year elapsed, are struggling to survive.

Anti-government media are more vulnerable to the economic crisis than pro-government media, according to the report, adding that this is because government organizations advertise almost exclusively in pro-government media and those critical of the government. government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). , such as Fox TV News, Tele 1 and Halk TV, have been repeatedly fined by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), the country’s broadcasting watchdog.

“…These fines amounted to nearly $2 million in 2021, leaving independent media in an even more difficult position,” the report added.

Political censorship is putting additional pressure on independent media, the report says, with online news outlets continuing to be sometimes blocked or asked to remove content deemed inappropriate or offensive, such as stories about abuse of government contracts. and the impact of rising inflation.

“Furthermore, prominent independent journalists are constantly being detained or prosecuted for reporting on topics not approved by the government. … Even more worrying is the increase in physical violence against journalists. Several journalists have been physically attacked because of their reporting. In February, the owner of a local newspaper who reported on local corruption was murdered in his office,” the report said.

He further pointed out that international news outlets in Turkey had also come under increasing political pressure over the past year, with RTÜK demanding that the Turkish services of Euronews, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America obtain broadcast licenses for their websites and Euronews removing video content from its websites to avoid needing a license, while DW and VoA’s appeals must go to court.

“Given all these attempts to affect the rights of citizens to access information in Turkey, it is not surprising that only 23% of respondents believe that the media is independent of political influence,” the report said.

News consumption via social media continues to grow in Turkey, a country with a population of 83 million and an overall internet penetration of 83%, and is important for independent media, according to the report, Instagram and YouTube proving particularly useful for visual content and driving traffic for social and economic issues, such as women’s rights, which are largely ignored by pro-government media.

Among the country’s most popular offline news sources are Fox TV, which is critical of the ruling AKP; the opposition daily Sözcü; and the 24-hour news channel CNN Türk, the report said, adding that the pro-government news channel A Haber was at the bottom of the list.

Fox TV News online, Sözcü online and are the most used online sources, according to the report, which also indicates that only 36% of Turks trust news overall and 44% say they trust news. sources of information they use.

The Turkish government intensified its crackdown on critical media and journalists following a coup attempt in July 2016, following which dozens of journalists were imprisoned, while more than 200 media been closed under the pretext of a fight against the coup.

Take a second to support the Stockholm Center for Freedom on Patreon!

Sarah J. Greer