The panel's moderator Assc. Dr. Sevda Alankus, started today's panel by saying "the purpose of our gathering is the mainstream media and our discomfort over the mainstream media". Her words were followed by an address made by Hifzi Topuz, a veteran communications academic and journalist.
Communications Researches Association (ILAD) founder and chairman Topuz made a presentation on "Degeneration in the Mainstream Media and Searches for an Alternative" where he said references to the media as a "4th force" or something being "independent" had been identified as bogus from World War I onwards and that gaining a great amount of strength after the Second World War, the media had actually lost its believability.
"We have to concentrate on individual mass communication networks"
Topuz noted that at present there were over 1 billion internet users and 2 billion mobile phone users in the world, attracting attention to the use of these channels by those against globalization for communication and to disseminate information.
Saying that attention had to be paid to this new concept, which he termed as "individual mass communication networs" Topuz stressed that the number of internet blogs were increasing by the day and that an annual 30 million new blogs were being opened.
Topuz also mentioned the importance of initiatives against distortion and impairment of news as well as cover-ups and summarized the pressures on the media under several categories.
State Pressure: To state pressure Topuz gave the examples of the Semdinli incidents in Turkey not being fully covered by the mainstream press and the lack of finding any of the alleged weapons of mass destruction that were the core excuse for the occupation in Iraw. "In the United States, Fox News operates as an instrument of propaganda" Topuz explained. "Not only do we not learn what is happening in Afghanistan, in Iraq, but the American people don't either. Even after a year since the occupation of Iraq, the USA people believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. These took place with the media drugging them" he said. Topuz argued that in America state pressure had come to the level where many journalists thought what was important was the interests of the USA as opposed to the truth of the news.
Topuz also reflected on the corporate benefits of media owners being more important than truthful news as well as the pressure of advertising on the media. He spoke on how news was being polluted for interests and said that although it was the result of the liberal system, he finance market culture of the liberal right in news reporting, the pollution of advertising, the destruction f information in magazines were issues that the people reacted against.
Topuz said in summary:
* There is no trace of the principle that "events are sacred, opinions are free". Media bosses are in collaboration with the bosses of globalization.
* News reporting is a profession of criticism. Its target is to create the citizens.
* Neo-liberalism imposes that both the fox and the chicken are free, but that leads to the freedom of the fox eating the chicken and the chicken being the fodder for the fox. No one against this way of thinking can voice their views or take their place in the media.
* As information is pulled into magazines, the peoples right to be informed is being violated.
Castellanos: Journalism with social gender equality changed a lot
Attending the forum from Colombia, journalist and womens right activist Angella Castellanos pointed out that with the escalation of the womens' movement, the representation of women in the media and the participation of women in the media had increased.
Castellanos, noting that half of the world's population was made out of women, said however that women were still not represented in the same proportion in the media. She said that since 1990 the number of network news services throughout the world reporting on the principle of social gender equality and containing women among their administrators had increased.
Castellanos stressed the important of the principle of social gender equality in news reporting and said this was leading to more important changes.
Eryilmaz: Journalists can change much as individuals
Tugrul Eryilmaz of the Radikal newspaper speaking on "Until where with the mainstream media" referred to the importance of internal criticism in initiating changes. Eryilmaz said that in the lack of such criticism from the inside, any analysis conducted would lead to a picture of catastrophy.
Eryilmaz said that journalists as individuals could change many things in the mainstream media and that this awareness would create the initiative and opportunities for a change.
He also proposed some methods for journalists to be part of this change.
News Sources: In social events instead of getting opinions from state officials or the police, getting the view of the victim of the event, such as the person that has been beaten.
Resisting against the advertising sector: Stating that newspaper pull-out sections or annexes were published only in order to get advertisements and that journalists were turned into content producers to fill these advertisement sheets, Eryilmaz said these could be fought against "by leaking news, by uncovering this pressure."
Organizing: Eryilmaz also noted that there was a very low number of union member journalists in Turkey and said "in order to be independent journalists, it is a must for us to organize".
Eryilmaz said opposition could indeed exist within the mainstream media and that this should not be ignored. "An individual is important as an individual" he said. "We need to deserve this. Journalists must see this and must make a difference".
Duran: Journalism is a profession of being an adversary
Journalist and Galatasaray Universty lecturer Ragip Duran said Eryilmaz's arguments were correct for the "Media in the west" but that it was not applicable to Turkey. He summarized the main problems of the predominant media in Turkey:
State of Law: "Turkey is not a state of law, it is a state of laws. Whereas in the West there is a more senior and more established bourgeois law that organizes the media. Because of this they do not have as many problems as we do". "
Media awareness and literacy in the society: "The society-media relationship in Turkey is superficial. Because of this negative things that in the West would prevent a journalist from going on the street are just being brushed aside and ignored in Turkey".
Union: "In the West unions exist not only to defend the labor rights of the journalists but also to enforce the ethics and the reasons of the existence of journalism. Unions must defend the profession".
Education/intellectual level of journalists: "In France a journalist would not know the name of the Chief of General Staff. But in Turkey he or she will. But that is all they know".
Media ownership: "In the West there are legal restrictions and limitations on media ownership that are enforced. A national newspaper owner cannot become a local newspaper owner. The owner of a bank cannot go and own a television. But in Turkey, even if there is legislation, it is not enforced. The extraordinary monopoly that has been created is too tied up to the government".
Lack of opposition: "When there is no opposition in the political arena, these can't be any in the press either. What is needed are real and independent small media islands that will truly raise the citizens' awareness".
No identity: "In the west there is a difference in newspapers called "serious" or "popular". But in Turkey there is a crisis between what is serious and what is popular".
Public field and intellectuals: "Zola, Sartre, Chomsky, have intervened in the public field with their writings. In Turkey, intellectuals are acting in television serials, working as advisors".
"Journalism is in essence a profession of being adverse." (TK/II/TK)
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