Turkey is recently the subject matter of a lot of news and reviews around the world, and it comes at the top of the list in this regard. This increasing interest towards Turkey in media is not limited to the countries that Turkey has close ties or problems with. Our country is mentioned even in newspapers and television channels of countries whose people would hardly be able to locate Turkey on the world map.
A couple of years ago, I entered the words, ‘Turkey‘ and ‘Erdoğan‘ into the news settings of Google so that it would alert me about news and articles that include these two words. So, I am bombarded with alerts on a daily basis.
This applies to the newly-initiated News section of Apple, too. Because I let this program know that I follow the news in the USA related to these two words, it informs me about any news and articles, renewed throughout the day with new ones.
Leading media corporations have either opened temporary representative agencies in Turkey, or sent one -or even more- reporter to our country with a mission. News are gathered first-hand, and reviews are supported and enriched through diverse resources and interviews with knowledgeable individuals.
A similar situation was experienced in our country almost ten years ago, too. Initially, news and commentaries of that time carried an air of surprise, a kind of surprise like the one that is felt when a little child showed an unexpected success. More matured approaches had eventually got the upper hand in foreign media.
Is this media attention good or bad?
It is good of course, if the news and reviews are favorable. Not surprisingly, our media let readers and viewers know ‘praises about Turkey’ ten years ago whenever such acclaims appeared in international media.
We would boast of ourselves, too.
Our passport used to be respected those days…
The situation appears to be quite different recently.
We face an international media attention whose news and commentaries do not find coverage in our newspapers and televisions, get addressed in discussion programs. On the contrary, such are occasionally confuted by certain individuals who hold an official position as ‘spokesperson’.
It goes without saying that adverse news do not benefit our country.
Notwithstanding how hard we try to make the world to see things in our country through rose-colored glasses, businesspeople and investors of foreign countries are adversely affected by negative news about Turkey in their own media when they need to decide which country to invest in.
International credit rating agencies dealing with different sectors evaluate our country like other countries, and compile their lists on the basis of information appearing in foreign media corporations, not our domestic newspapers and television channels.
In recent years, Turkey holds a place at the bottom of the rating lists in almost all sectors.
You may be aware that when someone reminds our place somewhere at the bottom of the lists, he or she comes under attack with angry words.
It is just impossible to hide the truth in the globalized world of today. In the past, it used to take some time for the world to know what economic and political policies you pursued at home and what consequences they let to, and react to you. Today, it is dramatically different. Even we sometimes learn what has just happened in our country from a foreign TV channel before it gets coverage in our media.
Things in Turkey are discussed, not only in domestic discussion programs, but foreign channels as well. While diversity in opinions seems to have waned at home, foreign channels provide opportunities for opposing views, too.
An interesting event in this regard has just taken place: Four foreign news agencies have come together to broadcast in Turkish from a TV channel. It is quite likely that this common channel will not bring any restriction on different views, and will have no qualms to give ‘undesirable’ commentators a platform to share their opinions with the general public in opposition to our TV news channels.
It seems some have grown uneasy about this. However, this new initiative is not different at all from our English broadcasting channels, TRT-World and A-Haber and their efforts to affect the outside world in certain ways. The only difference is that opportunities denied from some people by our media are provided by foreigners.
If we are to feel sorry, we should feel it for the embarrassing situation we have found ourselves in.
We can turn the tide
It is always possible for Turkey to turn the recent increasing attention into something positive for itself. Adverse criticisms directed at our country arise from a couple of matters, and we already know what these matters are. It would prove good enough to stop our mistakes, and embrace those positive aspects of our country ten years ago which had led to praising news about us in international media.
All needed is just will-power to do so.
Is it sensible to expect such a will today?
Better to leave the answer to the reader.
[Translated by Bernar Kutluğ from the the article appeared in this site’s Turkish section on May 21, 2019]