Presenting opposite views on nuclear energy

Presenting opposite views on nuclear energy

Reports on last week’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Akkuku nuclear power plant in southern Turkey made headlines in many newspapers, including Hürriyet.

One of our readers, Müzeyyen Huş, criticized our coverage of the ceremony. “You did not refer to any anti-nuclear power views. You also ran a prominent story on the promotional video prepared by the Energy Ministry regarding the plant. Do you not think readers have the right to know what opposing views are?” she said.

On April 4, Hürriyet’s front page had a headline reading “Button pressed to complete Akkuyu by 2023.” On other pages the headlines read: “The first layer of a new age,” “Healthier energy,” and “This is a turning point.” Indeed, there was no coverage of anti-nuclear views.

Müzeyyen Huş was right. Environmentalists have been speaking out against the project ever since it became clear that a power plant would be built in Akkuyu. Particularly following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011, the anti-nuclear movement gained strength everywhere, with some European countries laying out plans to close their nuclear power plants.

Hürriyet did not mention those reactions or the anti-nuclear movement around the world. What’s more, the newspaper did not cover the incident that took place on the very same day, when members of an environmentalist group, the Mersin Anti-Nuclear Platform, visited parliament and police prevented them from demonstrating. We also failed to report critical statements made by some NGOs and associations.

Later, when it reported Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s message to “those who criticize the Akkuyu plant,” Hürriyet used the headline: “Let’s keep a cool head.” However, it did not publish the views of those who are against the nuclear power plant.

Whether pro- or anti-nuclear voices are right or wrong is immaterial. What really matters from the journalism point of view is giving a platform for all views on such a controversial issue, as readers can make up their own minds only if they have complete information. Simply reporting whatever politicians say cannot provide this complete information.

In April 2015, Hürriyet reported protests staged against the Akkuyu power plant when foundations were laid for marina structures and the port. This way, we reported both positive and negative views regarding the nuclear power plants.

Sponsor’s commercials

It is clear that sponsorship is part of cultural life, social life, sports and the arts. Many such events can only take place thanks to sponsors.

There is also no doubt that a company or an individual gains something when they sponsor an event. Companies become sponsors because sponsorship effectively serves the function of a commercial.

Şule Kartal, a communication advisor at a local company, recently emailed me regarding the role of the media in sponsorship relations.

“On your website’s basketball section, for some time the name of Muratbey Uşak Sportif appears only as ‘Uşak Sportif.’ The company Muratbey is the official sponsor of Uşak Sportif and due to the agreement between them the sports club uses ‘Muratbey’ in its name. I kindly request that you make the necessary corrections,” Kartal wrote.

The agreement referred to was made between the club and the company, but it is endorsed by the media. The company inked a deal with the sports club, gives money but it is the media that publishes its commercial for free. In the Super League, football clubs make a lot of money from sponsors but the media gets nothing. What’s more, the line between commercial and news becomes blurry.

Maybe that is why we should perhaps discuss whether the names of sponsors should be used in sports events or for sports clubs, or whether certain ground rules should be established.

faruk bildirici, hdn, Opinion