Suzy Hansen's excellent article about Taraf, a new Turkish daily newspaper that is shaking up the establishment, is highly recommended -- both as a way of learning about the paper and about the current troubled state of the Turkish press.
Although Taraf has at times been guilty of committing some of the same journalistic sins as its competitors -- the use of sophomoric, provocative headlines; running with leaked information, regardless of its source -- the fiercely independent paper has also been doing groundbreaking work, particularly in its willingness to challenge Turkey's powerful military. As Suzy's article makes clear, this has come at a significant cost for Taraf, which has seen its advertising revenue dry up because advertisers are afraid to be associated with it.
Turkey currently finds itself facing deep political and social divisions, and those divisions are being reflected in the mass media, where pro-government newspapers and television stations are facing off against pro-secularist media outlets, each being accused of slanting the news in a way that seems to benefit their position. Lost in all of this, critics and some journalists say, is the truth provided by a truly independent media. Taraf, though not perfect, is the closest Turkey has right now to an independent mainstream media voice. In a very short time, the paper has been able to establish itself as an authoritative media voice. The question now, it appears, is whether it will be able to survive.
(Photo: A vendor selling newspapers in Istanbul's Kadikoy neighborhood. Photo by Yigal Schleifer)