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Roundtable on media accountability took place in Turkey for the first time in 20 years

26-11-2009 (Istanbul)
Roundtable on media accountability took place in Turkey for the first time in 20 years
Stephen Pritchard,
speaker at the roundtable
© UNESCO
UNESCO continues the implementation of its project, Alignment to International Standards in the Media Sector of South East European Countries. The next step of the programme was Istanbul, where UNESCO organized a national roundtable on media self-regulation and newsroom ombudsman mechanism in Turkey.
The event took place on 9 November and was attended by the leading 25 representatives of the media, press councils, academia and media regulatory bodies.

“Many of us congratulate UNESCO on this project,” commented a participant. “It’s the first meeting on these topics organized in Turkey since over twenty years.” The self-critique of journalists, the experience of the International Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO) and the media landscape in Turkey were among the items discussed. The following speakers made presentations: Stephen Pritchard, Chairman of International Organization of News Ombudsmen and Readers’ Editor of The Observer; Şahin Alpay, senior lecturer at Bahçeşehir University and columnist with daily Zaman and Today’s Zaman; Mehveş Evin, columnist with daily Milliyet; and Ognian Zlatev, Director of Media Development Center in Sofia, Bulgaria.

In his presentation Mr Şahin Alpay provided a description of the media landscape in Turkey and of the factors that led to the downfall of confidence in journalism, such as the media’s loyalty to state and government, the national legislation that has kept freedom of expression and freedom of the press limited, the abuse of responsibilities and misconduct of journalists themselves, the rooted domination of few media owners.

Mr Pritchard and Ms Evin provided two possible solutions to address the public disappointment vis-à-vis the media. Mr Pritchard described the rationale and conduct of news ombudsmen, a model of “self-critique from within”. Thanks to their mediation, the papers enjoyed a higher level of confidence from the public and avoided a number of potential lawsuits.

Ms Evin focused on the model of “self-critique from outside”, i.e. the press councils. She pointed out that, due to several domestic factors, the current Press Council in Turkey had become somewhat dysfunctional. Evin further argued that a new model is needed to ensure the participation of NGO’s and media owners.

The meeting was organized by UNESCO, in collaboration with the South-East European Network for the Professionalization of Media (SEENPM) and OSCE, as part of a series of national roundtables held in the framework of the project, Alignment to International Standards in the Media Sector of South East European Countries. The programme, financed by the European Union, aims at encouraging, assisting and accelerating media reforms in the South-East European countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Kosovo. The goal of the national roundtables is to initiate the process of establishing a self-regulatory mechanism and/or newsroom ombudsman mechanisms in every targeted country.
Roundtable on media accountability took place in Turkey for the first time in 20 years Roundtable session
© UNESCO

Related themes/countries

      · Europe and North America
      · Turkey
      · Professional Journalistic Standards and Code of Ethics
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