ELIMED webinar series (2) – Media and Democratic Backsliding

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Moderated by Associate Professor Eylem Yanardağoğlu, the second episode of ELIAMEP-Medyascope Media Series focused on Media and Democratic Backsliding with the guests being Associate Professor Bilge Yeşil, journalist Işın Eliçin and Marius Dragomir.

The second of seven-episode ELIMED webinar series, which is a media and information project presented by Center for Applied Turkey Studies (CATS) and supported by Mercator Foundation and German Federal Foreign Ministry, took place on 12nd April.

Associate Professor Eylem Yanardağoğlu who’s the chair of the New Media Department at Kadir Has University, firstly gave the floor to Associate Professor Bilge Yeşil, who works on global media and communications at College of Staten Island.

Citing US-based NGO Freedom House’s data, Yeşil told that the world is going through another era of democratic backsliding. She underlined that governments usually curb media freedoms in the name of “public good” by using methods of polarisation and declaring their opponents “enemies of the state.”  

Medyascope‘s senior media professional Işın Eliçin looked at the state of the media in Turkey through the perspective of a journalist, based on her decades of experience. Eliçin told that in the 1990’s, when she started her career as a journalist, they had the power to influence the government’s decisions. According to her, as media ownership got away from people with journalism experience into the hands of businessmen, things began to change. Veteran journalist also set the year 2007, in which ruling AKP drastically consolidated its power, as a milestone in terms of media freedom in the country.

Bilge Yeşil however, partially differs from Işın Eliçin on this matter. Yeşil claims that the oppression of Turkish media started in 2002, just after AKP rose to power. She told that AKP has used government’s financial power and their then-ally Gulenist movement to change media ownership.

Marius Dragomir, visiting professor and the Director of the Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University (CEU), said that media is the main pillar of a democracy and underlined the importance of media ownership and media capture in democracies.

The previous episode of ELIMED webinar series had focused on Turkey’s Pivot to Eurasia-Asia as an Alternative to the West.

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