Date posted: August 10, 2013
1- We have been observing a systematic campaign of lynching in social media against Zaman and Today’s Zaman; I am proud of being one of the columnists in these two papers who have always sided with the people by their acts of reason and democratic stance.
2- We have experienced the exclusionary and repressive stance of the guardianship structures and clandestine groups. Now it is sad to observe harsh and hostile criticisms raised by the groups we have considered friends. Last week, I wrote that I have been lynched because of a column I penned with good intentions. Our columnists face similar attacks on a daily basis.
3- Constructive criticisms should be responded with gratitude and appreciation; and the gist of the criticisms is taken into account. It is really sad to see that such criticisms are turned into a campaign of lynching and slandering.
4- It is sad because those who criticize Zaman and Today’s Zaman columnists have no idea whatsoever on the editorial stance and policy of these papers, the basic principles of press freedom or the core principles of democracy which they allegedly defend.
5- Zaman has been on the side of democracy since it was launched. To this end, it has supported the democratic reforms that Turgut Özal initiated as well as the European Union membership bid and the AK Party’s democratic reforms.
6- Zaman’s relationship with politics is based on principles rather than financial interests. Its strength stems from the power of the ideas it promotes and the support of the readers. It did not hesitate to extend support to the diverse political movements and their policies that serve the future of the nation.
7- Zaman and Today’s Zaman are the most diverse papers in Turkey in terms of the identities and tendencies of the columnists. Thanks to this, all ideas and opinions are expressed freely in these platforms. The columnists express their views and opinions even if they contradict with the overall stance of these papers. The stance of the papers is inevitably reflected by the editorial choices and tendencies.
8- In a regular democracy, journalism has a critical stance vis-à-vis different groups, particularly the ruling party. In addition, this includes media freedom and the expression of the unpleasant and even disturbing ideas and opinions.
9- A paper has every right to choose its columnists. Any kind of disagreement may lead the paper to part ways with its columnist. What is unpleasant or wrong is to impose censorship upon the content of the columns and to fire the columnists or journalists as a result of pressure by the government. The principled stance of Zaman and Today’s Zaman vis-à-vis such pressures and impositions is being admired and appreciated by the democratic circles in Turkey and in the world.
10- Zaman has never wavered in its democratic stance despite all direct and indirect pressures (lawsuits, threats and accreditation etc); and it has extended full support to the AK Party because of the injustices it had faced. It was even accused of being supporter of the government. Now, in reliance on the same principles, the paper criticizes this party’s flawed policies and anti-democratic practices; it also encourages this party to return to its former reformist stance. Therefore, it is a friendly, legitimate and constructive approach.
11- In an environment where the media figures are polarized as enemy or friends, Zaman and Today’s Zaman adopt a balanced and democratic stance which should actually be appreciated and commended; however, both sides adopt a critical and destructive attitude towards these papers; this is sad but not surprising. At a time when the critical journalists are fired, it is not a reasonable demand to expect that these papers adopt the same approach. Of course, some mistakes might have been made in the news reports and columns and some extreme statements might have been used. However, purge of the mainstream media from the reasonably critical views and opinions undermines the prestige of our democracy and leads to the growth of “the opposing” media. Zaman and Today’s Zaman find this unreasonable and unhealthy for our media and is dedicated to preserving its unique and pro-freedom stance.
The presence of Zaman Group in the media which supports and promotes freedom of expression of diverse views and independent press is a great chance for our democracy; and I strongly hope that it will preserve this stance.
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Source: Today's Zaman , August 10, 2013