Journalism as a profession was founded on the ideals of working for the public good and the right to know. This pursuit of knowledge may be rewarding but not without its dangers. As such, journalists have been attacked, persecuted, imprisoned, exiled and killed many times around the globe. Turkey of course is no exception, and especially in the 1990s, murdering journalists was used as a statement by various terror and crime organization as well as demented minds.
When we look more recently, a well-known figure comes to mind. Hrant Dink was killed on Jan. 19, 2007. His death caused an uproar, and many in the media showed solidarity for their slain colleague. Nevertheless, there were those who belittled his death by rationalizing and normalizing the killing.
Now let's wind the clock to these last two weeks. It seems that there are many in the media still willing to duplicate past mistakes. Here is a recap of these past two weeks.
On July 24, a major media group was targeted by a terrorist attack. A timed bomb was placed in the gardens of the Star newspaper and 24 TV, and without the intervention of security forces that conducted a controlled explosion, today we might be mourning the deaths of dozens of our colleagues in the wake of biggest terror attack in the history of Turkey to target journalists.
This failed attack also showed the dangers of painting a target on the media's back, which was the subject of this page a couple of times in the past. Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selehattin Demirtaş as well as several journalists were quite vocal in their criticism of media organizations whose editorial decisions they did not like. In İbrahim Altay's June 8 opinion piece in Daily Sabah, "Painting a target on the media's back," the potential dangerous consequences of Demirtaş's remarks were featured and their damage to independence of the press were outlined. Today, we see that these dangerous consequences transformed from potential to reality, albeit without any serious harm.
The aftermath of this latest terror attack on the independent press was also less than ideal. While many journalists and editorial boards from various organizations showed solidarity with the Star media group, several journalists did not. Some of their articles started with halfhearted condemnations, but turned sour with the word "but" as they went on normalizing the attack by providing excuses or shifting blame to the injured party. There is a saying that goes -- everything before the but is a lie. I would not quite put it that way, but if the shoe fits, who am I to argue.
This was not the only attack on journalists in the past two weeks though. Two reporters were attacked after the horrible suicide bombing in July 20 that took place in Suruç. A Haber reporter Sercan Bilgi and cameraman Orhan Şener were in the area in order to follow the aftermath as well as provide the public with coverage of the current events in Suruç, but they were attacked by a group of four people. Their work was disrupted, and they were not able to broadcast, as they were threatened with being thrown off the roof if they did not comply. This was a blatant violation of the public's right to know, and considering how reporters from a single media organization were singled out; it was another result of provoking people against the journalists.
These attacks on journalists show the need for media to become a unified front in similar events. They can make their statements by depriving attackers of an outlet or by not painting them in a favorable light with thin excuses. Media need to show solidarity with their threatened colleagues. Editorial differences should not matter when public interest is at stake.
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