Wednesday, July 29th11.5°C
27107
26336

Turkish TV's anemic protest coverage

Dense clouds of acrid, choking tear gas may have been blanketing the central square of Turkey's largest city, but it was penguins that dominated the evening on one of the country's largest private television stations. Its nature documentary ran uninterrupted, while another channel opted for a cooking show and a documentary on Adolf Hitler.

As Istanbul was convulsed by some of the most severe anti-government protests Turkey has seen in decades, the country's broadcast media looked away. Regular newscasts briefly mentioned the protest, before moving on to other topics. There was no word of the violence, of the riot police clashing with protesters for hours, or of the many injured in what even Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan later said might have been unnecessarily heavy-handed tactics.

Turks were outraged. They turned to social media in droves; Twitter and Facebook updates were virtually the only means of finding out what was going on in Istanbul, where tens of thousands of protesters were facing off against riot police.

A furious Erdogan lashed out. "There is now a menace which is called Twitter," he said Sunday, dismissing the protests as demonstrations organized by an extremist fringe. "The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society."

But to many in Istanbul, it was a lifeline. As word spread through cyberspace, more and more people crowded onto Taksim Square, where protests began last Friday over government plans to rip up trees in neighbouring Gezi Park to make way for reconstructed Ottoman-era barracks and a shopping mall. Eventually, the outcry was too loud to ignore. Television stations gradually began showing snippets of the protests during the weekend, until many had near-blanket coverage by Monday night.

But the damage had been done. In the days of protest that have ensued, demonstrators held up placards lambasting the media, criticizing them for keeping the public in this country of about 75 million uninformed and turning a blind eye to events that quickly spread from Istanbul to the capital, Ankara, and other cities.

On Sunday and Monday, protesters converged outside the offices of the private NTV and HaberTurk television stations. Some held placards depicting the country's three main private television stations as the three wise monkeys, who see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil. In Taksim, protesters overturned an NTV satellite van, smashing its equipment and ripping the doors almost off their hinges. The battered, graffiti-covered shell still stood on the square on Tuesday morning.

In a country where authorities have few qualms about jailing outspoken journalists, many have accused the media, particularly TV, of self-censorship, shying away from anything that could anger the establishment and Erdogan's government.

Some television personalities turned to more subtle ways of making their views known. A popular quiz show on the Bloomberg-HT channel, Word Game, made the protests the theme of Monday night's competition. Host Ihsan Varol asked competitors what "must be done to decrease tension?" The correct answer was one of the protesters' main demands of the heavy-handed police in Istanbul and other cities: "Withdrawal."

The Hurriyet newspaper ran a sly cartoon on its front page featuring penguins holding up a banner with a main protest theme, "Everywhere is Taksim, the Struggle is Everywhere."

The lack of coverage wasn't lost abroad either. Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland issued a statement calling for the investigation of allegations of excessive force by the police, and urging "all media outlets to provide full and accurate coverage of the situation."

Turksih media and business executives got the message from the public. Dogus, one of Turkey's most prominent business conglomerates, which owns NTV, as well as banking, insurance and marina construction interests, apologized for the lack of coverage on the first night of riots.

"Our audience feels like they were betrayed," NTV quoted Dogus CEO Cem Aydin as saying Tuesday after meeting with the channel's staff, adding that the criticism against the station was "fair to a large extent."

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News

26764


Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX14077.36+75.99
S&P CDNX586.97+5.25
DJIA17630.27+189.68
Nasdaq5097.16+7.95
S&P 5002094.99+1.74
CDN Dollar0.7726-0.0013
Gold1096.40+0.10
Oil48.06-0.35
Lumber259.50+3.40
Natural Gas2.845+0.024

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.175-0.005
Knighthawk0.010.00
QHR Technologies Inc1.37+0.01
Cantex0.05+0.00
Anavex Life Sciences0.78-0.13
Metalex Ventures0.06-0.01
Russel Metals18.35-1.10
Copper Mountain Mining0.82+0.02
Colorado Resources0.06+0.00
ReliaBrand Inc0.0045-0.0022
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.03+0.00
Mission Ready Services0.15+0.00
Decisive Dividend Corp2.60-0.10

 





FEATURED Property
23701274050 Sunshine Road
3 bedrooms 4 baths
$625,000
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Chasing ducks

Photo: Thinkstock.comWhen businessmen tell me that being low priced is the only way to stay in business, I am skeptical. Price is the simplest way for a consumer to compare and is overused as the basi...


Taking care of business

Photo: Thinkstock.comRetirement as a goal has changed a lot over the years. There was a time, it was the only goal. You’d punch the clock and count the years until you could stop punching that t...


Income from home equity

Photo: Thinkstock.comWhen retirement funds run low, seniors often ask if tapping into the equity in their home is the right way to retain financial independence. To see if this option might be a good ...

_



26586

26509


Member of BC Press Council