Hürriyet responds to Deputy PM Bozdağ’s ‘front page’ criticism over massacre in Syria

Hürriyet responds to Deputy PM Bozdağ’s ‘front page’ criticism over massacre in Syria

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Hürriyet responds to Deputy PM Bozdağ’s ‘front page’ criticism over massacre in Syria

Bozdağ had claimed that Hürriyet did not cover the massacre in a Damascus suburb, in which more than 1,300 civilians were killed in a chemical attack. DHA Photo

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ’s harsh criticism against the daily Hürriyet for “ignoring the massacre in Syria” was responded to today on the daily's front page.

Bozdağ had criticized Hürriyet for "not covering" on it's Aug. 21 front page the massacre in a Damascus suburb where more than 1,300 civilians are claimed to have been killed in a chemical attack. Instead, the newspaper led with a story about a controversial figure in the Ergenekon coup case, Tuncay Güney. 

“Today, I will name it as well, what do you see when you look at Hürriyet newspaper’s headline? A totally different incident. When you look at it inside to outside, there is not one single line about this massacre in Syria ... Which conscience ordered you to ignore this news? ... I am asking Hürriyet newspaper officials who put pressure on you to ignore this humanitarian crime, this massacre, in your paper, in your columns? Is there pressure from the al-Assad management, or did some others put pressure on you to write that Tuncay Güney story? Let’s say you did not cover it on your front page, who caused you not to put this story on your second, third or fourth page, with a little piece? What sort of journalism is this?” Bozdağ told reporters in Ankara.

Hürriyet today published a response under the following headline: “Do not worry, if Hürriyet [which means 'freedom' in Turkish] exists, we will have that news.”

It refuted Bozdağ’s claims that it had ignored the story, stating that it had put the story on its front page under the headline, “They killed humanity,” as the second most prominent news item after its headline story.

The story was also covered on the paper's "world news" page with almost a full page, and the story remained on the Hürriyet website all day long.

Bekir Bozdağ, the same day, realized that Hürriyet had put the story on the front page, saying, “But it is so small that I could not see, I correct my words, they put a few lines...” via his Twitter account.

Hürriyet said the newspaper’s editorial choices could be evaluated as right or wrong with different perspectives. “No one is free from criticism and no one is perfect, but this principle is closed to argument: In advanced democracies the political authority cannot determine which story to be used to which extent.”

It also said that Bozdağ’s comments against Hürriyet were against democracy’s fundamental principle of freedom of press, and said they could cause a debate about “whether headlines are written with pressure or orders in Turkey?”

Hürriyet also reminded that Doğan Media Group’s other newspapers, the Hürriyet Daily News and daily Radikal, covered the story on their front pages with main headlines.

“Hürriyet newspaper is a media organization that is aware of national sensibilities in foreign policy and morally principled. Hürriyet has stood against the al-Assad regime that victimized its own people in Syria from the every beginning. Just a few days ago it raised its voice against the generals in Syria with ‘Nile River’s butcher’ and ‘Firavun’ headlines. Hence it is not convincing to use words like ‘enemy media’ about Hürriyet, it just hurts people’s conscience,” the statement said.

It also stressed that it had covered the massacres in Syria and would continue to do so with what it called its ethical and independent broadcasting policy.