TRT World should avoid being a propaganda channel

TRT World should avoid being a propaganda channel

I cannot say I was not surprised when I was invited by Şenol Göka, the general manager of Turkey’s state-owned broadcaster TRT, for the launching event of TRT World.

For a journalist unaccredited by the presidential complex, it is normal to be surprised. The reception took place at the section of the complex open to public, and the invitation said the venue was at the “Presidential Complex.” 

I criticized a program broadcasted on TRT recently in one of my pieces, so I enjoyed the fact that I was invited despite my criticism. I thought perhaps this is a sign of a new era. 

TRT World is a very important initiative both for Turkey and for TRT. It is a media platform with a high budget that only very few countries in the world are able to sustain.

 A huge platform was prepared for the event. On your first step, you get the impression that Turkey’s “new founding ideology” will be based on July 15. 

After walking past a giant “TRT World” board at the entrance, you find the second giant board that is entirely about the July 15 martyrs. All the speakers start their speech by commemorating the martyrs of July 15. 
As a concerned citizen, I have to articulate my sincere feelings. One expects the same dose of commemoration for our heroes who lost their lives in the War of Independence, Cyprus and the ongoing war against PKK terror.  

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş referred to an incident that happened at the “Golden Butterfly Award Ceremony” where the TRT serial “Diriliş” was given an award but mistakenly was not given platform to deliver a thank you speech at the ceremony. 

Kurtulmuş in his speech “damned” those who did not grant the right for them speak at the Golden Butterfly ceremony.  Because I know it was only a technical mistake and everybody was genuinely apologetic for the incident, I was very sad and disappointed at Kurtulmuş’s words. The organizers of the award ceremony and Hürriyet staff did not deserve this severe and merciless expression. 

TRT World is truly a very significant initiative, which is why I attended their reception. However, I do have a couple of criticisms for the presentations screened at the event. 

I found the language of the channel a little aggressive. I mean, instead of informing accurate stories on Turkey to the world, it looked as if it deliberately selected a specific language to challenge the West. It needs a bit of a “retouch.” Otherwise, it will not be perceived as good news channels but a “third world propaganda channel.” 

There is too much emphasis on the July 15 coup attempt. I wonder whether it is correct to give the outside world the image that “this is a country where coups are staged.” 

Nevertheless, this initiative is extremely important for Turkey and the reception was reflecting this beautifully. 

One other thing that we saw was that President Tayyip Erdoğan is a political master. The 14 years he served as the prime minister and the president have further strengthened his expertise. 

It would not be an exaggeration if I say he is the best “prompter using” leader. He holds the pulse of the hall perfectly. He uses the pauses in his speech effectively; his body and mimic language are very successful.

 Everything about him says that he feels good and at ease in this hall. 

My only criticism regarding this is the lighting of the digital screen above him, it was not good, it reflected shadows on his face that made him look very tense. 

This is the hall I have seen numerous times on TV, it is where the president speaks to village and neighborhood heads. The point of view which dominates the entire complex can also be seen here:

 Everything is colossal and designed according to the perceptive of transforming the symbolic president to an executive president. The acoustic design is very good. The only shortcoming, in my opinion, is the look of the giant screen right across, there are much more advanced ones. 

I have a few notes on behavior too. In Ankara, the conduct of men kissing other men on the cheeks has completely disappeared, instead the slight touching of heads has taken its place.  

The journalist profile in Ankara has completely changed. I could only recognize a few of them in the hall. A huge portion of those in the media section seemed to be applauding the president with an enthusiasm exceeding their journalism.   

Even though the ceremony started an hour late, there was not one complaint heard.