When an actor becomes a target because of a journalist
Turkish actor Barış Atay had written on Twitter on May 13: “You will all apologize in tears.” The tweet referred to Yusuf Yerkel, an advisor at the Turkish Prime Minister’s Office, who made headlines in 2014 after being photographed kicking a protester on the ground during demonstrations following a deadly coal mine disaster in Soma. Atay posted the tweet after Yerkel had apologized four years later from the miner.
“When the day comes, we will not forget these things by forgiving, showing mercy, or refraining from putting people on trial … This is just the beginning. You will be held accountable for all you have done to this country and its people,” Atay said on the Twitter.
Daily Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan quoted his tweet and called on presidential candidates Muharrem İnce and Meral Akşener to put him in his place.
When Atay was detained by police officers the day after the article was published, Ahmet Hakan was accused on social media of making Barış Hatay a target.
Mustafa Demirkol, a reader who sent an e-mail from Frankfurt said he shared these accusations, saying, “Hakan assumed the role of both the prosecutor, the complainant and the lawyer of the complainant.”
Abdullah Sarkaya, Selçuk Esen and other readers also argued that Ahmet Hakan showed Atay as a target.
I have analyzed the subject as the ombudsman.
Atay spoke of seeking accountability through the judiciary in his message and expressed his view. I have not seen a call for violence or a factor against the law.
Yet, Ahmet Hakan calls out to “show Atay his place” for his views. When we look in the Turkish dictionary for the definition of the expression he used, he openly wants Akay “to be punished, to be tamed with a tough reaction, to be brought in line.”
A writer can obviously criticize but should not try to obstruct someone from expressing his or her views. A writer should also not ask for punishment for someone else expressing their views, because it is not the job of a journalist to judge and prosecute a person. By asking Barış Atay to be brought in line, Ahmet Hakan trespassed the boundaries of journalism.
In view of so many examples restricting the freedom of thought and expression, it was not difficult to guess that this would make him a target of trolls and mobilize the police and the judiciary before İnce and Akşener.
Although it has become very ordinary in Turkey over the past years, I want to remind one more time that advising politicians, telling them what to do and how to do it is not the mission of a journalist.
An article that was published on the front page informed of the suicide of a female executive of a company.
However, in January 2015, Hürriyet decided not to publish suicide as news aside from exceptional cases, because research has revealed news about suicide triggers new suicides.
People with suicidal tendencies can end their lives by taking the methods written in news articles as examples.
The advice of the World Health Organization and the principles of universal journalism are also against the publication of suicide news.
Only the suicide of famous people or people on active public duty can be news. Protest suicides, or suicides that greatly resonate with the public are exceptions. The case in the article published in Hürriyet was not among such exceptions.