Listening Post

Yavuz Baydar: 'Breaking the rules'

One of Turkey's most critical journalists tells the story of his firing that has shaken the country's media.

Last Modified: 06 Aug 2013 09:23
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At the Listening Post we have been keeping a close watch on how Turkey’s media scene has been coping with the large-scale protests that rocked the government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in 2013.

One of the most outspoken critics of this trend has been veteran columnist Yavuz Baydar – calling foul on media owners too timid to put their business interests on the line for the sake of journalistic integrity.

Baydar was one of Turkey's first - and for a long time, only - ombudsman or readers' representative.

In 2004, he took up the position with Sabah newspaper, writing a regular column addressing media ethics in Turkey.

Baydar has also worked with other newspapers and TV channels, observing the mainstream media from the inside.

After the Gezi Park protests exploded in Istanbul in late May, Baydar's editors at Sabah began to find his criticism too hot to handle. Soon after, wo of Baydar's columns were censored - and when he wrote a fiery opinion piece for the New York Times on July 23 he was told to clear his desk.

The Listening Post sent several requests to the editors of Sabah for comment on Baydar's dismissal but no one was made available to speak with us. Sabah has however made its position clear in the very same pages Baydar used to appear.

In an article entitled The Failure of Sabah’s Ombudsman, Baydar was accused of “breaking the rules” and “criticising where he had no clearance to do so”.

We sat down with him to talk about his firing and Turkey's media landscape.

"Turkish journalism has been marred by a culture of resistance, a culture of dissent. Resistance to mutations of freedom of expression, and then dissent regarding showing … fairly what's right and what's wrong. Decade after decade journalists for Turkey, and generation after generation have continued this stance. I can speak for myself, I will do my utmost to remain in this profession because I love this profession. Many of my colleagues love this profession, and we will find other ways, and we are hoping that we may seek new paths, new channels, particularly in the digital domain."

- Yavuz Baydar, journalist


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