Tag Archives: Turkey

IPI: At least 57 journalists in prison in Turkey

The International Press Institute (IPI) claims a report from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has indicated at least 57 journalists are currently in prison in Turkey, which the IPI says is “apparently more than any other country”.

While Iran and China topped lists last December by reportedly jailing some 34 journalists each, Turkey, a candidate for membership in the European Union, has nearly doubled that number five months later, raising questions about the country’s commitment to freedom of the press and the legitimacy of its democratic image.

Last year Journalism.co.uk reported that restrictions on freedom of expression in Turkey had given the European Commission “cause for concern” according to a progress report released in November.

In the annual report, produced to assess progress in European Union membership candidate and potential candidate countries, the commission claimed a “high number” of violations of freedom of expression in Turkey are still being submitted to the European Court of Human Rights.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists the number of journalists in prison worldwide as of 1 December last year, had risen to its highest level since 1996. In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, the CPJ found that 145 reporters, editors and photojournalists were in jail in 28 countries at the time of the report.

Al Jazeera: Turkey charges journalists accused of plotting coup

Al Jazeera is reporting that a Turkish court has charged four journalists and a writer with involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the country’s government, a day after two prominent reporters were jailed pending trial.

Human Rights Watch said on Saturday the developments in the case had a “chilling effect” on free speech and urged Erdogan’s government to respect press freedom. Thousands of people also marched in Istanbul and Ankara, the capital, on Friday, to protest against the detentions.

Full story on Al Jazeera at this link

 

 

Reuters: European Commission raises concerns about journalists in Turkey

Reuters reports today that the European Commission has raised concerns about the detention of journalists in Turkey, following the alleged arrest of 10 journalists and writers yesterday.

In a statement, Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele is quoted as saying that the European Commission “is following with concern the recent police actions against journalists”.

Last year the European Commission said in a progress report that restrictions on freedom of expression in Turkey had given it “cause for concern”.

Hari Kunzru: ‘The right to freedom of speech trumps any right to protection from offense’

Author and English PEN deputy president Hari Kunzru has posted a tanscript of his address to the European Writers Parliament yesterday, in which he criticised the event’s host country Turkey over article 301 of its penal code which makes it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity and Turkish government institutions.

I believe that the right to freedom of speech trumps any right to protection from offense, and that it underlies all the other issues I’ve been speaking about. Without freedom of speech, we, as writers, can have very little impact on culture.

Full transcript at this link.

It’s old-fashioned journalism from the bunker and there’s more to come, says Telegraph

So who wants the films rights to MPs’ expenses? It’s on a far less grave subject, but maybe it will be like the 9/11 films; the aftermath still permeating society, when the scripts are sold and production started. The next general election may not even have happened. Gordon Brown could still be Prime Minister. Just.

Or perhaps (Sir? ‘Lord’ is less likely given the target) Will Lewis’ memoirs will have been on sale for a while first, before the 21st century’s equivalent of ‘All the President’s Men’ is released, to allow the dust to settle.

Whichever way, this archetypal British plot is the stuff of a (Working Title, maybe) director’s dream; even if the journalism itself is markedly not Watergate, as most hardened investigative hacks and other journalists at rival titles are quick to point out. The gate of significance in this story is the one at the end of the second home’s garden path. No Deep Throat, just Deep Pockets.

A small group of privileged Telegraph journalists has been embedded from early till late in what’s apparently known as ‘the bunker’ – a room separate from the main newsroom, away from the ‘hub and spokes’, away from the Twitterfall graphic projected on the wall – sifting through the details of thousands upon thousands of supermarket, DIY store and restaurant receipts and other documents.

It’s got all the ingredients for the heroic hack flick: the furtive deal with the middle man and the original whistleblower, for an undisclosed sum (no doubt to be revealed in Lewis’ or possibly Ben Brogan’s memoirs), at one point rumoured to be £300,000.

While this whole expose – the ‘Expenses Files’ as the Telegraph first called it – is most definitely built on a film-like fantasy, it is grounded in career-breaking political change, and last night’s audience at the Frontline Club for a debate on the paper’s handling of the stories, got a little insight into the process; a rare chance, as the paper has mainly been very quiet on just how it’s done it.

The ‘consequences were massively in the public interest,’ argued the Telegraph’s assistant editor, Andrew Pierce, who popped up on BBC Breakfast news this morning as well. “It was brilliant, brilliant old fashioned journalism (…) at its finest.

“It’s so exciting – you were aware you had stuff, it was going to change things, and boy it has…

“Of course it’s been terrific for the circulation – we’re a newspaper and we’re there to make sales.”

According to Pierce, 240 broadsheet pages covering the story have been published so far.

“So far we’ve published one correction: we got a house mixed up. I’d say in terms of journalism that ain’t a bad ratio.”

That was disputed by one member of last night’s panel, Stephen Tall, editor-at-large for the Liberal Democrat Voice website; he’s unlikely to get a cameo as it would rather spoil the plot.

Tall’s complaint was that three stories on Liberal Democrats have been misrepresented in separate stories and received insufficient apology; something Journalism.co.uk will follow up on elsewhere, once we’ve moved on from this romanticised big screen analogy.

Back to the glory: Pierce described how journalists from around the world had been to peek at the unfolding scene of action – they’ve had camera crews from Turkey, Thailand and China, in for visits, he said.

There’s a ‘sense of astonishment’, he added. ‘They thought quaint old Britain’, the mother of all democracies, ‘was squeaky clean.’

The story, Pierce claimed, ‘has reverberated all the way around the world’. “We actually are going to get this sorted out. Were MPs really able to set their own pay levels? Their own expenses levels? And it was all tax free.”

‘Old-fashioned journalism lives on’ has become the war cry of the Telegraph and its champions, in defence of the manner in which it acquired and dealt with the data.

For raw blogging it is not. Any CAR is kept secret in-house. Sharing the process? Pah! This is as far away from a Jarvian vision of journalism built-in-beta as you can imagine. While other news operations – the Telegraph’s own included – increasingly open up the inner workings (former Telegraph editor Martin Newland’s team at The National in Abu Dhabi tweeted live from a significant meeting yesterday morning) not a social media peep comes from the bunker till the paper arrives back from the printers.

There might be little teasers on the site with which to taunt their rivals, but for the full meaty, pictorial evidence it’s paper first, online second. Rivals, Pierce said, have to ‘wait for the second edition before they rip it off’.

Nobody has it confirmed how much they officially coughed up for the story – ‘we don’t use the words bought or paid,’ said Pierce. Though last night’s host, Guardian blogger and journalism professor Roy Greenslade, twice slipped in a speculative reference to £75,000, Pierce refused to be drawn.

“Fleet Street has existed for years on leaks,” said Pierce, as justification. “We will stick to our guns (…) and not discuss whether money changed hands.”

Enter the hard done by heroine of the piece: Heather Brooke. Much lauded and widely respected freedom of information campaigner, she and other journalists – one from the Sunday Telegraph (Ben Leapman); one from the Times (Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas) – did the mind-numbingly boring hours of Freedom of Information requests and tedious legal battles over several years, only to lose the scoop to a chequebook.

Will she get a part in the government-destroyed-by-dodgy-expenses film? If Independent editor, Roger Alton, was casting she certainly would. In fact, she deserves a damehood, he declared last night.

A member of the audience asked whether Alton would have paid for the information himself if he had had the chance. Unlike his last foray to the Frontline, the Independent editor knew he was being filmed this time. A pause for ethical reflection before he answered, then:

“We’ve barely got enough money to cover a football match for Queens Park Rangers. Take a wild guess! Any journalist would cut off their left arm and pickle it in balsamic vinegar!”

That’s a yes then, we presume.

Apparently, Sun editor Rebekah Wade turned it down after being told there wasn’t much chance of a Jacqui Smith style porn revelation or a cabinet resignation. “She asked ‘would this bring down a cabinet minster?’ And she was told it wouldn’t,” claimed Pierce. How wrong the data tout(s) were about their own stuff.

More embarrassing for the Telegraph, though Pierce said he knew nothing of it, was Brooke’s revelation that the Sunday Telegraph had refused to back their man financially, a case which Brooke, Leapman and Ungoed-Thomas finally won in the High Court – the judge ordered disclosure of all receipts and claims of the 14 MPs in original requests, along with the addresses of their second homes.

Update: Ben Leapman responds on Jon Slattery’s blog here: “I never asked my employer to pay for a lawyer because I took the view that journalists ought, in principle, be able to go to FoI tribunals themselves without the barrier of having to pay. I also took the view, probably rather arrogantly, that in this emerging field of law I was perfectly capable of putting the arguments directly without a lawyer.” Leapman was represented by solicitor advocate Simon McKay ‘very ably for no fee’ in the High Court, he writes.

Publication of all MPs’ expense claims are now forthcoming, after redaction (‘a posh word for tippexing out,’ said Pierce.) In July 2008, ‘parliament went against the court by exempting some information – MPs’ addresses – from disclosure,’ the Guardian reported.

Now, for a name for our blockbuster. ‘The Month Before Redaction‘? ‘Bunker on Buckingham Palace Road‘? ‘646 Expense Forms and a Re-shuffle‘? I can predict a more likely tag line at least, the now all too familiar: ‘They said they acted within the rules’.

The ending to this expenses epic is not yet known, but there won’t be many happy endings in Parliament. Pierce promises more stories, with no firm end date, but unsurprisingly, didn’t give any hint of what lies ahead. Could an even bigger scoop be on its way? Who’s left?

RSF: YouTube blocked again in Turkey

The Turkish Telecommunications Council has endorsed the fourth court order blocking access to YouTube. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) “the authorities claim that content posted on YouTube is either disrespectful to Kemal Mustafa Atatürk, the Turkish Republic’s founder, or supports the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).”

RSF: Turkey blogs are back up ‘provisionally’

Access to Google’s two blog services, Blogger and Blogspot, has been temporarily restored in Turkey. A court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir had blocked them as the result of a complaint by the TV station Digiturk. They are now reactivating them ‘provisionally’ to enable Digitürk, that filed the original complaint about allegedly pirated video footage, to submit all the required evidence.

MediaGuardian: Turkish court rules blocking of newspaper website

Turkey’s third largest-selling newspaper has been blocked, after a complaint by an Islamic creationist. Gazetevatan.com is now closed to Turkish users, after a court ruled that it had insulted Adnan Oktar, a Turkish writer who disputes the theory of evolution.

Innovations in Journalism – Orato.com

Each week we give technology developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are are working on. This week it’s citizen journalism site Orato.

Image of Orato website

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?

I’m Paul Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Orato.

Orato is a citizen journalism site that features stories from 3525 (last count) citizen correspondents from around the world.

Anyone can post text, audio, video story or photo slide show and comment on the site after registering.

We encourage first-person accounts, partly for practical reasons – people are comfortable speaking in their own voice about what they encounter, what’s going on in their lives, and what they think and feel – but also because it communicates on a more intimate level.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?

Orato is useful to journalists as a source of fascinating stories that don’t stem from the usual sources or locales.

On the home page, as I write, there’s a piece by a guy who kills baby seals for a living on the ice of Newfoundland, who is unapologetically carrying on a family tradition; there’s a story from the jackman (he jacks up the wheels) for the Nascar Red Bull team…he watches the cars go by at 198 miles an hours, then has to be ready in a split second to change the tires on his driver’s car; there’s a story about a family in Turkey who walks on all fours – their standard means of locomotion, a piece from a guy who spent more than a decade high up in Scientology’s secret army, and a piece from an astronaut on what it’s like to walk in space.

Some of these pieces we’ve solicited; others have come unbidden.

Orato is a treasure chest for journos looking for stories. It is also a place where journalists can and do post pieces that are viewed as too controversial or unpublishable at their own workplace.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?

We’re already formulating Orato 3.0 (2.0 introduced video and interactive features such as the activity tracker).

In 3.0 we’re going to focus even more on the social media dimensions of the site…allow correspondents to instant message each other, allow them to customize their own MyOrato home page to display the subjects they’re interested in, etc.

We’re constantly thinking about new ways to expand citizen journalism – live video, versions in other languages, syndication of our best pieces using widgets, etc.

4) Why are you doing this?

For these reasons:

  • Because it’s important. This site has become a platform for people who otherwise may have no public voice – the sex trade workers who covered the serial killer trial in Vancouver, the Scientology refugees who have come to the site to bear witness against an oppressive cult, people who have been abused by authority and people who just love to tell stories and are looking for a safe, reputable and credible place to do it. It’s a democratic phenomenon, one we’re proud to be a part of.
  • Because people want it: now that the bandwidth and interactive technology exist, people are eager to participate and we give them at least one outlet.
  • Because it’s exciting. It’s the marketplace for a magnificent variety of voices and experiences; it’s the court of public opinion.
  • The wonder of it all: Strange and exotic stories appear out of nowhere. One day, the former chief executioner for Kenya decides to tell his story.
  • It’s great fun.

5) What does it cost to use it?

Nothing. It’s all free.

6) How will you make it pay?

We’re in the process of negotiating with online ad agencies to feature ads on the site. As traffic increases so will our CPM rate and our revenue. We have a number of other ideas in the development phase, but they’re not quite ready for prime time.