Democracy and the media

Democracy and the media

Independence and pluralism of media are among the fundamental requirements of democratic governance. Only if there is an independent and pluralistic media in a country can people make healthy and free opinions on issues of the country. With the absence of either an independent media or pluralism in the media makes it difficult to talk comfortably about decent democracy in that country.

Whether there is a free media in a working democracy or if a free media enables discussion on democracy is like a chicken and egg story. Of course, headed by supremacy of law and equality of all in front of the law, there are a variety of other requirements of democratic governance. Elections, as well, are high on the list of requirements of democratic governance, but only if they are just and fair. Otherwise, elections alone cannot suffice to make a country a democratic one. Elections must be just and fair.

As is often said, coming to power through the vote is no big deal for a real democracy. Rather, if people holding powerful posts can be replaced with a just and fair vote it might become possible to assert that there is a working democracy in a country. How can a country have just and fair elections?

The foremost requirement of a just and fair vote might be allowing a high court, such as a supreme electoral council, to become the boss of the electoral processes. Such a high court must be allowed to have sufficient power to defy any probable pressure from the government or a power den. For that, a legal framework providing independence to the high court might not suffice. There must, as well, be a sufficiently enlightened society who can vigorously demand respect fornational will. Even being ordained with such extraordinary powers and confidence of the society might not be enough in the absence of a pluralist watchdog, the media.

Only if there is a free media in a country contributing to in-depth discussion of not only experts but also various segments of the society can there  be sufficient accumulation of information on any peculiar issue. Contrary to a pluralist approach, if media of a country is shaped from one source of power, such a media can only be a propaganda outlet, which unfortunately cannot contribute to democracy, but on the contrary, can carry the prospect of causing some very serious erosion of democratic principles, values and norms.

For the past months, with the financial support of the European Union I have been in efforts to achieve a longtime ambition, creation of an Ankara press club to serve as a safe house for journalists, an incubation center for young colleagues who with their diligent efforts help advancement of a better-informed society who would help create a better Turkey with their intelligent choice at the ballot boxes. Indeed, is that not what is democracy is?

The Press House that was opened yesterday at the Association of Journalists headquarters in Ankara with EU funding will hopefully serve Turkey sail safely towards further integrating with the European family of nations by consolidating Western norms and values, besides acquiring higher standards of living, business and industry.

Yusuf Kanlı,