Then, the recent terror incidents became more important. We decided to draft a principled text on the media approach towards terror. We considered asking for the full support of papers and TV stations once we could agree to the text. We wanted to use the experiences of the media in countries that have faced the problem of terror, and the principles and publication styles of those media organizations. The declaration would focus on avoiding the propaganda of terror organization while observing the rights of the people to have access to news. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan directly elaborated on this matter on a TV program, and so we thought that our declaration became less important because it would be perceived as something that resulted from political instruction. But this is not the case.
In fact, everybody is disturbed by how incidents of terror are reported in the media because the overall style and media approach is not classy and elegant. There are also complaints particularly by those who are victimized by the incidents. The countries that have faced this problem in the past have great experience on this matter, and have acted collectively to deal with this global problem. At this point, media principles should be discussed. The experiences of global media and the experience of a country that has fought terror over three decades should also be taken into consideration.
On the other hand, it would be unfair to argue that the prime minister's statements on media and terror should be viewed as a request for censorship. Besides, if a state asks for censorship, it does not raise a discussion about it on TV. It would discuss these matters behind closed doors. Before these statements, like many other papers, we were particularly careful about ensuring cautious and responsible journalism when reporting on incidents of terror. The implications made by some critics that we belittle incidents of terror can be attributed to either illiteracy or bad faith.
The prime minister's remarks should be viewed as the outcry of a man who is suffering extremely. Every day, young people die in this warfare. Parents feel the anguish in every bullet. The prime minister is trying to make sure that the environment in which these bullets are fired is eliminated and that the media must not contribute to its existence.
While writing this piece there was another development on the agenda: the government was working on drafting a law in respect to how incidents of terror should be reported. Is this a proper strategy? Personally, I believe that it is not. First, there is no need for a legal arrangement. Secondly, no matter how carefully or responsibly you act, any law would be seen as an instrument of censorship. There is no need for such a move.
The journalists who are not attached to terror organizations know full well the meaning of unbiased reporting. If needed, they can come together and draft some principles themselves. Professional organizations can take action and offer strong criticisms of any media actors extending support to terror. It is possible to criticize actors that fail to observe media ethics and principles through different methods and approaches. The universities can also take action by analyzing how reporting that supports terror affects the social fabric of a country. I am afraid that regardless of working hard to take a careful approach, such a legal arrangement may be perceived as some sort of censorship. There is no need to worry; the media executives of this country are responsible and sensitive enough to observe the global media rules on how to report on incidents of terror. It is necessary to allow them to act freely and to develop a common culture and approach towards journalism.
How are reports on terror written? This is something that I could cover in a separate column, but let me tell you this: It is necessary to share the realities with the people without having to submit to the goals of terrorist organization. The goal of these organizations is obvious: they would like to present themselves as powerful to intimidate the people and to instigate conflict between the people. It is possible to make reports without honoring these goals. There are plenty of examples of this in the world; but our media should adopt a constructive approach and consider the global experience, respect human life and take social peace and cohesion seriously.
Zaman in Vienna
We are still holding programs and events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Zaman daily. You are familiar with the special works by renowned photographers on Turkey. Turkey as depicted by 25 famous artists has been exhibited in Turkey and in the world. The last of this series was staged in Vienna. You have read the reports on this matter in the paper. I think it is useful to pay attention to some points for now.
We have experienced what we saw in the London exhibition in Vienna as well. It seems that Zaman has become an international brand. Its principled journalism and high quality standards make Zaman a reliable source of analysis and reports. Only a paper that does not make any false reports can ever get to this point. You would have an influential and powerful media outlet if you add wisdom, a constructive approach and sincerity to this.
Participation in the event in Vienna was extraordinary. Hayati Yazıcı, minister of customs and commerce, was there as a representative of Turkey. He made important and significant points at the gala opening of the exhibition when he came together with Turkish businessmen and visited a school sponsored by Turks. The minister and Turkish envoy Ayşe Sezgin have been the greatest supporters of the event since the beginning. There were also leading journalists participating in the event. Their attendance was really important as a sign of professional solidarity.
Our Austrian guests were also dignitaries. Austrian Minister of Labor Rudolfs Hundstorfer, Austrian politician Hannes Swoboda who serves as the Socialist Group Chair in the European parliament and Ankara envoy Klaus Wölber were among the participants. The opening session and the gala in the evening were spectacular. The media attention the exhibition, which was hosted at the Austrian Presidential Palace, received was pleasing to us. It is not proper to focus entirely on some few points and words in the speech by Hannes Swoboda. He made positive statements about Turkey-EU relations and our paper.
Believe me, such events may seem easy to organize, but it is not the case. There is hard labor, pain and effort behind the events and organizations.