Former Anadolu Agency head complains about lack of diversity in Turkish media

Turkish media is undergoing a serious and deep crisis and the readers complain about lack of diversity in the media, Kemal Öztürk, former head of Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency (AA), said in his column in pro-government Yeni Şafak daily on Thursday.

Turkish media has failed to find effective ways to respond to the digital transformation, Öztürk said, noting that two important newspapers, Habertürk and Vatan, recently announced that they had ended their print editions. 

“I think similarity is the issue that readers complain the most. Sometimes ten newspapers use the same headline unaware of each other,” Öztürk said.

Opposition outlets say similar headlines are an indicator of Turkish government’s control on media, but Öztürk said that the real reason was dependency on AA as the only source for news.

“In my time in office, 70 percent of the news reports in the newspapers were originated from AA. This ratio is now at 95 percent. Not only are the news reports the same, the approach to reports is also the same,” Öztürk said.

“Is it possible for newspapers to avoid similarity when dependency on national agency is so high?" he asked. 

There is a serious problem when a newspaper never mentions problems in the country or the government’s mistakes, said Öztürk, adding that there is also a problem when a newspaper only mentions the mistakes.

"Constructive criticism is the most important contribution for a government,” he said.

Turkey’s conservative Karar newspaper published a statement on Monday, complaining about pressure and discrimination it had been facing due to its critical stance.

"First of all, we have faced with an embargo that has been applied uninterruptedly since the day we started printing," read the statement. "Advertisers and agencies distributing advertisements were warned not to place ads in our newspaper." 

Turkey’s independent media suffered a major blow last week, when Anka News Agency announced that it had been closed after 46 years in service.

AA’s main competitor Dogan News Agency (DHA) and the distribution company Yay-Sat was passed to a pro-government conglomerate, after Doğan Media Group was purchased by Demirören Holding in March this year. 

Turkish news site ODA TV last month reported that the Demirören Group had decided to shut down Yay-Sat.

If Yay-Sat is closed, pro-government Turkuvaz Medya will hold a monopoly in newspaper distribution.