Milliyet appoints Ankara representative Fikret Bila as new editor-in-chief
Fikret the most experienced political observers in the Turkish media. Hürriyet photoOne of Turkey’s most prominent mainstream newspapers, Milliyet, has appointed its veteran Ankara representative, Fikret Bila, as the new editor-in-chief, replacing Derya Sazak who held the post for only nine months.
Bila, who is also a columnist, has spent more than 20 years following the rumors in Turkey’s capital and is considered one of the most experienced political observers in the Turkish media.
Sazak was appointed more than a year after Milliyet’s ownership changed hands when the Doğan Media Group sold it along with daily Vatan to the Demirören-Karacan joint venture in April 2011.
A few months ago, the newspaper leaked a document purportedly written during a critical Feb. 23 meeting between jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and three deputies from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) on İmrali island as part as the Kurdish peace talks. The report was slammed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who urged the daily to publish its sources.
"If that’s how you're doing your journalism, shame on you! The media will say [the same thing] again: The prime minister is attacking us. But whoever tries to spoil the process inside the media is against me and my government,” Erdoğan said.
Two members of BDP’s party assembly resigned while a press officer was dismissed, but the furor did not abate as the daily then refused to publish the column of one of its more renowned journalists, Hasan Cemal. The columnist was suspended from writing after he voiced support for the newspaper’s decision to publish the leaked document on March 2, leading to a disagreement between Cemal and Sazak over the publication of the piece. Cemal refused to write a new article for the daily unless they published the one at hand; when the request was refused, he parted ways with the daily.
The daily has become embroiled in new controversy in recent days as another prominent journalist, Can Dündar, reportedly took “leave for an indefinite time for his columns on the Gezi events and Egypt.” The claims, however, were denied by executives at Milliyet, who said Dündar was on normal leave.