Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2013

Press Freedom in Turkey

Marc Pierini

January 2013

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Press freedom in Turkey is one of the core concerns of the country’s civil society and international partners. Beyond any doubt, both internal and international observers believe Turkey’s democratic credentials are tainted by the distinct curtailment of a pluralistic discourse in the country. But that opinion is not necessarily shared by officials at the higher echelons of Turkey’s government. So far, the government’s response to these assessments has been to either deny the problem exists or characterize it differently, arguing that its actions are a response to insulting language or terrorism. While concerns about press freedom in Turkey are not new, the situation has worsened in the past two to three years. Currently, there is no common ground on the definition and description of the problem—or even on its existence. Turkey’s image has suffered deeply as a result. Eight authoritative reports on press freedom were issued in the last two years, and they provide a comprehensive view of the media scene in contemporary Turkey. While the mandates of the organizations conducting the reports differ from one another, the material scope and analytical depth of the reports are impressive. Taken together, they address the full range of press freedom issues: media market, legislative framework, Internet censorship, arrests and judicial prosecution, government interference in the media, and harassment or firing of individual journalists.