The IPI special report on Turkey 2015, Democracy At Risk, points to the increased pressure on media in recent years, part of a drift toward authoritarianism that has led to a pervasive climate of self-censorship and one of the most troubling press freedom pictures in Europe.
Apart from bans on covering certain topics and direct pressures, the report highlights the political leaders’ efforts to control media via huge tax fines, calls for boycotts, advertisement embargos, seizing media outlets and transferring their ownership to supporters, frustrating journalists with legal cases on insult claims, targeting opposition journalists with social media trolls, and cultivating Internet sites and columnists tasked with scaring and intimidating critics.
The report expresses concern about the “ever-growing self-censorship related to economic pressure, particularly as companies active in other economic sectors acquire ownership of a greater number of media outlets, sometimes at the alleged behest of government officials in exchange for favour”. According to the analysis, “those companies are, in turn, increasingly dependent on state contracts and government connections to survive, leaving journalists with the choice of suppressing critical reports or losing their job, which, amid a polarised media and political climate, effectively can equal loss of career”.
As the report summarizes, the effects of these pressures ara that “media owners suppress criticism to protect their profits, journalists suppress criticism to protect their jobs, and the Turkish people are left with- out information necessary to make informed decisions or hold leaders accountable”.
Read more: Steven M. Ellis (2015) Democracy at Risk. IPI Special Report on Turkey 2015. Vienna: International Press Institute: http://www.freemedia.at/fileadmin/resources/application/IPI_Special_Report_-_Turkey_2015_Final.pdf