Turkey's constitutional referendum - if implemented - will grant President Erdogan sweeping powers. What role did the media play in the "Yes" campaign - and what does the vote mean for Turkey's democracy?

With a staggeringly unequal amount of live news coverage for the opposing campaigns - 458 hours for Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "Yes" camp versus 45 in total for the "No" campaign, respectively - the media played a significant role in the outcome of the referendum. The imbalance was so clear to see that it was one of the reasons triggering the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to highlight the inequality of the constitutional referendum.

But this is nothing new to Turkey's media landscape with crackdowns on critical voices in journalism rife after last year's attempted coup

"One cannot help but ask, 'Is there any media that's not pro-government anymore?' or 'Is there a media that can be anti-government?' For almost 10 years now - it's very clear that AKP leadership has tried to create a dependent media sector and has pretty well achieved that. Therefore, the referendum process took place in a period where we had no alternative, critical, opposing media voice," says Gulseren Adakli, a media scholar at Ankara University.

On the opposite side of the political and media spectrum are journalists like Mustafa Kartoglu, a columnist for the pro-Erdogan paper, The Daily Star. Kartoglu believes this is merely the nature of journalism and that no injustice has been carried out on the part of the media throughout the course of the referendum campaign. 

"Private radio and TV channels aren't obliged to be balanced or to give equal space to everyone," says Karoglu. "Private media might have a group they support and they should be allowed to broadcast that view. Of course, if it were more balanced, that would make everyone happy. But even if both sides were as visible or were represented equally, that wouldn't have changed the referendum result."


Gulseren Adakli, media scholar
Fatih Polat, editor-in-chief, Evrensel.
Borzou Daragahi, Middle East correspondent, Buzzfeed News
Mustafa Karoglu, columnist, Star Daily

Source: Al Jazeera