There will not be any single practice of watchdog journalism in Turkey, presumably for decades from now on. The fear of being articulate and critical will not only drive young Turkish journalists to drop their pens, or keyboards more likely, but will also cause them to grow the most brutal form of deprivation: self-censorship.
I consider myself as one of the new generation of Turkish journalists witnessing the cruel assault committed to our pioneers who have been now jailed, arrested and even shot to death for being explicit about what they believe to be valuable enough to share with their readers.
If they haven’t yet being subject to any of those actions, then they probably have chosen to remain silent or I now ‘believe’ they most like have been ‘forced’ if not only ‘threatened’ to voice down.
I refer to the latest ‘wave of arrests’ against the Turkish journalists, who have allegedly taken part in ‘coup plot’ against Turkish government. For further details please visit Hürriyet Daily News extensive coverage in English.
Rather than the judiciary details, I prefer to look at it on a broader perspective, which will be a matter of ‘lapdog journalism’ for the coming generation of Turkish journalists. Apparently, the future proves that being critical, investigative and ‘daring’ will no longer be a considered as a quality in Turkey.
I know many of my peers who have grown up with their parents repeatedly warning them from their very early childhood, ‘do not to sign any petition no matter what they are related to, do not be a member of any political party –since most have probably suffered of political turmoil during late 1970s which ended up with 1980 military coup and worst of all, do not be ‘different’.
First, when I stepped into journalism in Beirut I’ve met a dear Danish journalist whose single advise to me was: “If you have fear never ever walk into journalism.” And yes, he was one of the few foreign journalists who knew Turkish politics very well and who could read my mind like an open book, most probably also my questioning eyes.
His advice came after a tense story I’ve had which my editor didn’t welcome. It was about a deadly clash between a Shi’a and Sunni family in Beirut who could easily turn out to be a matter of serious conflict if not covered in a right way. Well, I followed his advice, undermined my fear –even if it was still boiling in- and got the publication. Not that I’m proud but since it was my first attempts in journalism having heard this quote by a foreigner once again have driven me to question the fear in Turkey.
Being raised with shrinking boundaries and growing fear in sub-consciousness has distanced my generation from the joy of explicit articulation.
Turkey’s arrogant attitude of embracing the ‘sole democracy’ in the region is being questioned once again. The worst of all is that, there will be nobody criticising its future steps but rather we will be applauding what we used criticise before.
Damaging the young generation of journalists’ free mind is no different than damaging the country’s democratic existence.