Lack of press freedom pushes Turks to alternative media

As a result of Turkish government’s grip on mainstream media and the increasingly adverse conditions for reporters, people in Turkey are seeking news from alternative media ahead of June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections, AFP reported.

Medyascope TV, which was founded in 2015 by prominent journalist Ruşen Çakır, broadcasting via Facebook, YouTube and Periscope is one of the examples of alternative media in Turkey. 

Medyascope presents live debate from voices across the political spectrum with a freedom increasingly absent from the major news channels in Turkey. As there is a severe lack of pluralism in the mainstream media, the voice of alternative news channels like Medyascope has become more important, the agency said.

"The mainstream media are not broadcasting news in the way that people need to be informed. They look for sources that do alternative but independent, objective journalism. And they find us," Medyascope presenter Işın Eliçin, formerly a prominent anchor on the NTV news channel, told AFP.

Eliçin emphasised that alternative media should not be identified as pro-opposition, but should focus on doing good journalism.

Burak Tatari, another anchor at Medyascope, said access to information has become difficult for audiences in Turkey, as interview subjects and material were filtered in the mainstream media. "We are trying to do here what the mainstream media should do,” Tatari said.

Turkey’s largest media group, Doğan Media Company, was sold in March to a businessman with close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), bringing the proportion of media companies affiliated to the government to 90 percent, according to Media Ownership Monitor. As with previous media sales to pro-government businessman, lay-offs and changes in editorial content have followed the sale. 

Not only state-owned TRT, but also private television channels have been given disproportionate air time to the AKP.