Ertuğrul Özkök - English
Ertuğrul Özkök - English
Ertuğrul Özkök - EnglishYazarın Tüm Yazıları

The difference between sect and the people’s newspapers in Turkey

I asked in a recent article “if the rise in pride is equal to an 8 percent rise in votes”.

Haberin Devamı

I will ask the same question of the newspapers today.


"How much do newspapers gain from stoking the nation’s pride?"


In other words, by how much was the circulation of newspapers effected by this?


Or, let me put the question another way:


What has Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's storming out of the panel added to the newspapers that applauded his actions with broad coverage and to those who covered it more matter-of-factly?


I will address the answer to this question at the end of the article, but first let me mention two objections raised over what I said the ruling Justice and Development Party would gain from the storming out incident.


* * *


The first objection belongs to Uluc Gurkan, a former deputy of Democratic Leftist Party (DSP).

Haberin Devamı


Gurkan opposes the thesis that suggests that the capture and return of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the terrorist PKK organization, led to a 8 percent increase in support for the DSP, to which he says:


"There was a serious rise in the DSP's votes in those days. Support for the DSP was slightly above 20 percent according to a survey we conducted two weeks prior to Ocalan's capture. This support rose to nearly 28 percent when Ocalan was captured. But support in the elections was only slightly above 21 percent. In other words, the DSP did not directly benefit from Ocalan's capture."


The second objection came from Adil Gur, an executive at A&G Research Company.


What he says is this:


"Yes you are right, we have sentimental voters; our sentiments go way beyond our logic from time to time."


If an election was held last Sunday, the ruling AKP would gain 8-10 percent more support than it otherwise might have. The impact on some voters of such a hot topic dominating the country’s agenda is that it may cause them to forget their day-to-day problems and direct their focus to the AKP."


The picture in Turkey ahead of the general elections in July, 2007 is this:


AKP support, which was around 44-45 percent in February in 2007, increased to 54-55 percent immediately following the publication of a memorandum on the Turkish army's website.


But support declined to its previous levels in the time leading up to the elections and the AKP gained 46.5 percent of the vote.


The affect of the memorandum and the 367 debate was around 2-3 percent, according to Gur.


What about the situation in the mass media?


In no democratic country anywhere in world would a newspaper pose the question of "Why didn't you cover this headline story?" to another.


But here in this country the question is often asked.


Certain sect-minded journalists accused other newspapers of being "pro-Israeli" for not covering the Davos incident with the same acclaim as they.


This incident showed once again that Turkey is a democratic country.


* * *

Except for a few fanatics and journalists at certain newspapers, some applauded Erdogan with full-page headline stories; however, some of their writers were more dispassionate, and even made critical assessments.


And some others were vice versa.


So, how has this incident affected the circulation of newspapers?


For the enthusiastic supporters of Erdogan, the Star daily sold an additional 11,000 copies on that day, while Vakit sold 9,000, Yeni Safak 7,000, and Tercuman sold an additional 2,000 copies on the same day.


However, the circulation of Hurriyet daily and Milliyet daily, which covered the incident in a matter-of-fact way, increased 30,000 and 25,000 respectively.


Posta daily, which ran the headline, "Somebody needed to say this", also sold additional 30,000 newspapers, while sales for Sabah daily rose by 30,000 and were up 18,000 for Vatan daily.


So, looking at these figures, which of these newspapers "has articulated the public sentiment?"


Those that sold an additional 30,000 or those that sold 7,000 more.


Or, will we look at the increase in the percentage of those newspapers with a daily circulation of 20,000 but who sold 7,000 more on that day.


* * *


I think neither of them.


Because in democratic countries every newspaper has its own unique reader profile.


Also, there is no rule that says a newspaper's stance should be one-hundred-percent inline with the public sentiment in every issue.


Newspapers can sometimes march in a completely different direction and they should have the courage to do so.


If this was not the case, how is it possible for the death penalty to be removed?


Would Ocalan still be in Imrali prison or would he have already been executed?


This is the difference between a sect newspaper and a newspaper in a democratic country.


An independent newspaper can stand in opposition to the views of its readers.


But sect-newspapers can never stand against their sect or community...


So, which circulation is higher?


The circulation of 20,000-25,000 in the one hand, or the 500,000 on the other...


You decide...



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