Several Turkish journalists' organizations have voiced strong criticism of Prime Minister Erdogan's meeting with national media owners and executives on 21 October, at which Erdogan urged journalists to show restraint in their coverage of the conflict, to take account of its consequences and to avoid relaying PKK propaganda.
Even more disturbing is the communiqué that five leading Turkish news agencies - AA, AHT, ANKA, CIHAN and IHA - issued jointly on 24 October announcing that, "Common principles have been adopted concerning the coverage of terrorist incidents."
They said they had undertaken to "take account of public order (...) keep a distance from interpretations that encourage fear, chaos hostility, panic or intimidation (...) not include propaganda for illegal organizations" and, above all, to "comply with the publication bans issued by the competent authorities." The communiqué also said: "Account will be taken of social utility and solidarity when selecting reports and photos for transmission to subscribers."
"We had hoped that the era of government directives telling the media how to cover the most sensitive subjects was long over in Turkey," Reporters Without Borders said. "The very vaguely formulated undertaking by the leading news agencies to toe the official line now poses a serious threat to freedom of information.
"Will these agencies, whose job is to provide content to all the media, willingly participate in a news blackout? Minimizing the scale of human losses or choosing not to report certain operations will just increase mistrust of the media. Complete and objective coverage of developments in eastern Turkey is an essential precondition for reaching a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue."
Click here to read the full press release.
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