Turkey’s Journalists’ Union makes a splash with World Press Freedom Day campaign

Basın Belada

Turkey’s Journalists’ Union (TGS) marked World Press Freedom Day with a resounding awareness campaign that reached millions of people through online and offline media on May 3.

The TGS campaign was entitled #basinbelada (The press is in trouble) as a play on the lyrics of a popular song.

More than 200 billboards in Istanbul, Izmir, Diyarbakir; Bursa, Adana, and Mersin carried the campaign slogan.

Newspaper ads and social media posts completed the picture, as dozens of Turkish journalists, including popular reporters and pundits, shared the campaign visuals.

“The intense attention that our campaign attracted is the result of the current state of media freedoms in Turkey. Everyone knows that the press is in trouble. We should understand that when the press is in trouble, the whole society has trouble. If the media is not free, there is no democracy,” TGS executive Mustafa Kuleli said.

While explaining why these two words in Turkish were picked for this year’s campaign, Kuleli said that less is more in this context. “We didn’t want to impose any words on people. We wanted to give our colleagues a chance to describe their own experiences in the context of a media environment in deep trouble. I think we have achieved our goals,” he added.

With a change of only two letters, the campaign title refers to an original song by late artist Ahmet Kaya, named “Başım Belada” (I am in trouble).

TGS report lists press freedom violations in past year

In tandem with the campaign to raise awareness on the freedom of the press, the union also announced the TGS Press Freedom Report 2021 on May 3, extensively documenting the past year’s cases of censorship, arrests, convictions, physical assaults, and judicial harassment targeting Turkey’s journalists.

According to the report, 43 journalists remain behind prison bars in Turkey. 274 journalists faced the judges in 128 legal cases in the past year. Journalists were sentenced to more than 226 years in jail, as hundreds of news websites were blocked or news content deleted.

The Turkish government’s audiovisual and print media watchdogs issued millions of lira worth fines to suppress critical reporting and commentary on television stations and newspapers in the same period.


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