1. How do you make sure the information you receive is true? How can you be sure that the people who feed information to IPI are trustworthy, honest people?
IPI has a very strong National Committee, which has members working in different countries to promote press freedom. These members are very diverse. There are journalists, reporters, civil society and media owners. Also IPI has lots of resources that they gather information from. There are some resources that they trust and always work with, and some resources where they have to check if the information is right.
Some media corporations write “This information is not verified.” if an information they share isn’t verified. But IPI doesn’t think that this is acceptable. They try to verify the information before they publish it. If the information is really important they would use it anyway. However IPI prefers to verify the information they use from multiple sources and if the information they get is confirmed by multiple sources, only then they consider it verified. They also choose good and reliable sources.
2. How do you maintain your disassociation with politics? Are there any cases where your researchers have been obstructed by politicians?
Yes, many times, we are a political entity, we can’t deny that; however, being a political entity doesn’t mean that we have to give up on accuracy or unfairness. Many journalists fear losing their job if they criticize or talk about the government. I believe that a solution to a problem can only be found by discussing it amongst the media. Journalists are afraid to criticize because they are afraid of losing their jobs and they are afraid of the punishments. They should do the right things and give IPI a call if they get in trouble for doing it.
On the other hand, media is a business and that’s unfortunately what we depend on. Media owners have been accused, especially those who have very close economical ties to the government. Media owners and journalists fear if they criticize or talk about the politics. But we are still trying to find ways to talk about those issues. We believe if the problems are talked among journalists, the society will slowly find a solution. At the same time we don’t force them because it is really big challenge. We don’t accuse anybody because media is a business.
3. We are sure that you are aware of the Gezi Parki events which have brought many sections of the community together. During the civil unrest, it has been documented that more than 125 attacks on journalists covering the protests has taken place including assaults, obstruction, detention, threats, censorship orders etc. What do you think Turkey is doing wrong?
IPI is in Austria, so we are very close to Turkey. We have tried to put pressure on the government of Turkey however the jailing on journalism and terrorism charges is a very complicated topic. My advice is that journalists should be well-informed and aware of the laws of your country. You need to know the laws in your country. A solution to this problem can only be found by discussing it amongst the media however I am aware of how big of a challenge this is to the Turkish journalists.
Also, civil society is very important in the countries such as Turkey, where the government puts pressure on the journalists. In countries where the control of the media is in the government’s hands and there is censorship, it is the civil society which saves the principal of democracy.
4. Let’s have a more citizen intervention look, rather than expecting outside help. What can the Turkish citizens do to get more freedom of press? Sarkozy was also a very strong leader but he supported the criticism from Le Canard Enchaîné? Do you think the French people helped this in any way?
The civil society is very important because they can talk about many problems because they don’t depend on government money. Many journalists are afraid that they might lose their job if they criticize the government. People can reflect their thoughts through social media and this is fundamental in the countries where there is a huge amount of censorship.
Civil society has other ways to support press freedom. In this moment, the journalism community is not able to react as they should. Instead, the civil society has the access to talk about the problems because they don’t depend on government money, etc. Civil society today has the capacity through the internet, through the social media, etc. In countries where there are censorship, civil society is what saves the basic principal of democracy. In Turkey, civil society has to be aware. Journalists need to be aware of the laws and what they are doing. Democracy, also brings freedom of speech with it. However even if some countries are democratic they have censorship, but if civil society stands up for its country than they can save the basic principal. Knowledge is the most important thing if you want to bring back your freedom. The civil society needs to be aware of the laws if they want to fight censorship.