People immediately think that the access, new windows of opportunity and tools that the Internet provides will eliminate conventional tools of communication including newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. This is something that needs to be discussed. Will the new media destroy the old one or will it lead to changes to the older formats?
It is hard to estimate this right now. However, it has been observed throughout history that technological advances transform the old formats into new. Most probably, the media will eventually be transformed into different forms from what we have today. And the gist of it all: Media holds a crucial place in our life and we will feel its impact in the future as well because access to information and knowledge will be no less important. On the contrary, it will become even more important to have access to proper information and test the reliability of the information. In addition, the sophistication of information, its transformation into in-depth analyses, its evaluation from a historical perspective and its ability to refer to future predictions will all become important, and the profession of journalism will become an even more crucial and valuable profession.
The potential danger for the future of journalism in Turkey is different. Unless proper measures are taken to deal with that danger right now, we will experience huge losses in the profession. The current style of journalism is the outcome of a structure that experiences great troubles because it has not completed its process of normalization. The flaws and problems of the guardianship system in place under the shadow of coups and military memos are also visible in the profession of journalism. For this reason, up until recently, actions ranging from provoking coups to antidemocratic practices have not been viewed as a problem by the media. And there are still people in this country who suggest that there should of course be support for the military. However, someday, everything will be the way it has to be and people will perform their actual roles. The political administrations will be powerful enough to perform their duties. And then, instead of focusing on ideological symbols, the opposition parties will check the power of the political administrations. Instead of putting pressure on the people, the security forces will perform their actual mission. But how about the media?
Let us imagine that this country has been normalized and everybody is taking care of their business; what does our media do? Let us say that nobody thinks about coup attempts anymore; the people are no longer discriminated against because of their lifestyles and religious beliefs. The polarization and diversity among people is not transformed into a source of conflict and the importance attached to the state is not used as a tool of repression against the people. What would the media do in this climate?
In fact, the answer to this question is simple: The newspapers in this country will do whatever the others do in the world. Of course, this should be the case. However, should not the backgrounds of the people who perform this profession become adequate to sustain it if true journalism is to be done in a normalized country?
It is easy to make reports out of ideological polarizations and manufactured concerns because relentless coup attempts and illegal actions deserve the close attention of journalists. But what if this state of madness is gone and justice takes over to deal with the illegal organizations and actions; and what if the people start focusing on their jobs only and relying on legal activities to lead their lives? Does the media which currently makes reports out of scandals and the activities of the illegal structures and entities know how to adapt to this and what to report and publish? Will it be ready for the new style of journalism in Turkey?
The lights of specialized journalism are on the horizon. However, our media is unable to get rid of the entanglements in journalistic affairs described above; for this reason, it fails to properly analyze the emerging reality. It is extremely important how the in-depth analysis, refined knowledge and the truth that is relevant to people's lives will be brought into the new age of communication. New fields of specialization should be opened within every area of expertise so that the need for an analytical approach in every report is fulfilled.
For instance, the economy is an area of specialization, but it also includes other fields that require additional competence and expertise. It is not possible anymore to publish reports pertinent to finance, energy, stock exchange or investment by reliance on superficial reports or information. Sports is no longer a field that former soccer players can cover by relying on their experience in the past. Environment, health, energy, international affairs…It is obvious that there will be a move towards in-depth analysis in all of these fields.
Sadly, let us admit the painful truth: The new generation in the media world is less experienced than the former generations in terms of competence and analytical abilities. The majority of the senior journalists were at least reading or doing research out of ideological considerations. But there is now a general state of ignorance. On the one hand, the factors that would provoke further thinking and investigation are fading away; on the other hand, the master-novice relationship is no longer applicable in this profession. In recent years, newspapers have been terminating contracts with journalists. Almost none of them recruit journalists. In this case, specialized journalism becomes an empty and useless dream.
Of course, we need to think about in what technological environment journalism will be performed in the future. But more importantly, it is essential to address lack of proper and adequate human capital to carry out journalism with common sense and wisdom. This is what is essential. Unless proper linkage is established between notions of reason and wisdom, it is not possible to build a responsible journalistic style. And of course, all these remarks are for those who are aware of the value of what this profession could contribute to the country and to the world, not for those who want to maintain the current order.