The Turkish protests of the last two weeks have seen the rise of citizen journalists using social media to tell the story. Early on mainstream Turkish broadcast media paid no attention to the demonstrations. Turkish journalist and Al-Monitor columnist Tulin Daloglu explains why. Daloglu runs the Twitter feed @turkeypulse.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:This is On the Media. I’m Brooke Gladstone.
BOB GARFIELD:And I’m Bob Garfield. Nearly two weeks ago, a small group of Turkish environmentalists were attacked with tear gas and water cannons while protesting the government plan to redevelop Istanbul's Gezi Park into a shopping center and mosque. The violent overreaction - and the Deputy Prime Minister has admitted it was that - touched off ongoing protests in every major Turkish city. It’s not about trees anymore. It's about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s perceived abuse of power and indifference to opposing views. On Thursday, he claimed the demonstrations have, quote, "lost their democratic credentials and turned to vandalism.”
On Wednesday, Turkish media reported that authorities had arrested 25 people for allegedly spreading false rumors through social media. He called the protesters capulcu, the Turkish word for “looters,” a term they have have embraced, as you can hear in this version of a popular song posted on YouTube, where the lyrics to “Every Day I’m Shufflin’” have been changed to “Every day I’m Chapulling.”
PROTESTERS:Every day I’m chapulling!
BOB GARFIELD:One Turkish game show that plays with words found a way to insert
terms related to the protests like, “Gezi” and “Park” and “pacifism” into
answers on the show.
In all the New York Times counted 70 references on the show to the protests -
[TURKISH SHOW SOUNDTRACK]:
[SOUNDTRACK UP & UNDER]
BOB GARFIELD:Including Twitter. Did you catch that? A nod to Twitter’s role in informing the public and organizing protests.
So Twitter, YouTube, even some game shows weighed in, but Turkish journalist Tulin Daloglu says one group was conspicuously quiet, and that was the mainstream media.
TULIN DALOGLU:The Turkish media literally did not turns its cameras to its own streets for the first two, three days ofdemonstrations. There is an intense government pressure on the newsrooms, and they have given in because the government is strong, as the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s party has been elected to power three consecutive times. I think the media is just playing politics. The government only prefers to hear the hear the news that provides a good image for them, both domestically and internationally.
BOB GARFIELD:Now, you mentioned playing politics, but this is more than just subtle pressure imposed by the Erdoğan government. Over the last number of years, many journalists have been jailed more than even in China or Russia. There have been crippling fines imposed on one media group of something on the order of a billion dollars. Is this a simple case of intimidation, fear of prosecution from the government?
TULIN DALOGLU:Look, I mean, the journalists, they do get scared because the
question is well, the government is able to get to our big boss, and he’s having
difficulty, so what happens to us? You know, most of us are not earning too much
money. We have families to take care of. For the past decade, we have not seen
really any – stories about corruption. But if you go to Turkey’s streets, if you
talk to people on Turkey streets, wow, there is a lot of stories out there.
BOB GARFIELD:You’re speaking with some experience here. You, yourself, lost your job. Where were you working, and what were the circumstances of your dismissal?
TULIN DALOGLU:Well, I used to work for a well-known daily Turkish paper named Habertürk, up until May 2010. I have been critical about the Prime Minister’s policy toward Israel and the way how he handles his relationship with Syria. And I was told that there was a telephone call from the Prime Minister’s Office to the owner of Habertürk, and my contract got terminated soon after. The Habertürk is a privately owned paper. The people that I work with, the people that I thought was taking care of me were the ones who pushed me under the truck. I’m not the only one. I’m not going to be the last one. There are a lot of others here who have to, you know, change their professions.
BOB GARFIELD:When the government has this “see no
evil, hear no evil” approach to terrorism and protests and when the police react so violently against peaceful demonstrators, is there no public sentiment for change?
TULIN DALOGLU:The people, the citizen journalists on the streets do not really care whether the media is doing it’s job or not. They have taken things into their hands. The social media, Facebook and Twitter, have empowered them. And they’re using it to full speed. The Turkish people also celebrate the journalists – the good journalists who are really doing their job. It’s not about siding with the government or not siding with the government. It’s really not the issue, but the ones who can report the event as is, because that’s what’s really needed.
BOB GARFIELD:Tulin, thank you very much.
TULIN DALOGLU:Thank you so much.
BOB GARFIELD:Tulin Daloglu is a columnist for Al-Monitor, a US-based online publication covering Turkey. And she hosts #turkeypulse on Twitter. She spoke to us from Ankora.