Bitter journalism tears

Indignation all around: alleged military coup plotters wanted to use journalists in their plans to overthrow the government. Daily newspaper Taraf recently revealed yet another coup plan, and it contains two lists: one of 137 names of journalists who would be asked to cooperate with the coup plotters to help create a chaotic atmosphere in the country, which would ‘justify’ the coup, and one of 36 names of journalists who would be arrested after the coup.

Some of those on the latter list yesterday filed a complaint in court against the alleged coup plotters; the 137 journalists who were considered to be potentially pro-coup haven’t made themselves heard yet. And I can’t help thinking about the connection between the plans of the alleged coup plotters and the reality of journalism in this country.

You see, journalism in Turkey doesn’t have too much to do with trying to inform the public as objectively as possible. Practically every headline contains an opinion, and that way you can easily determine on which side of the political scene the paper is situated. Actually there are already journalists doing a good job in helping to polarize the country by being outspokenly pro-military, anti-military, pro-government, anti-government. I don’t criticize the columnists, whose job it is actually to voice their opinions, but the normal reporters who cover the daily news. Their headlines are not the news but their interpretation of the news. They hardly ever obey the golden journalism rule of letting both sides speak, they accuse people of crimes before any judge has spoken. And some of them easily change their political views if that is better for their business. So in fact, the situation the alledged coup plotters planned to create, already exists. (Also the arrest-part, by the way: there are dozens of journalists detained or convicted because they wrote articles with topics or views that are not in line with the wishes of the powers that be.)

So of course you can shed bitter tears over coup plotters who include you in their vicious plans to drag the country back in time, but isn’t it about time you upgraded your journalism to modern times as well? It would help to make Turkey a stronger democracy. With less space for coup plotters.

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