‘Don’t let it out of this room’

‘Don’t let it out of this room’

Years ago, a senior Turkish journalist faced some very serious accusations.

According to the indictment, somewhere the journalist found some “explosive” documents regarding serious wrongdoings by the owner of a major telecommunications and media conglomerate.

The journalist went to that businessman, showed the list of documents he had in hand and asked for his comments about them. When the businessman offered a $100,000 worth cheque, the journalist allegedly forgot about the explosive documents, got the cheque and bought a house.

Was this story true? Probably yes, but perhaps wrong. Even if in private discussions ears heard many confessions to that end, as there has never been a discipline penalty for the journalist in question was involved in that affair nor there was ever a court verdict against the journalist or a public admission by himself, the issue remains as one of the “city legends” of Ankara.

When at a discussion at the Czech Journalists Union, President Paolo Magagnotti of the Association of European Journalists-The Communication Network (EJ) said there were journalists who got paid to write about the realities and serve as a watchdog for the people, but there were journalists who got paid not to write, I remembered that Ankara city legend of the early 1990s.

If is disputable, of course, whether such a “media person” could be described as a journalist, but seeing that despite all such claims and private confessions, the “journalist” I have been mentioning holds a prestigious place at the senior echelons of a media company.

It is natural, perhaps, that like in all other segments of the society there are some rotten eggs among the journalists.

The duty of the journalism organizations must be to be watchful of such rotten eggs among the ranks of journalists and refuse their membership. But, will that suffice? As long as “don’t let it out of this room” practice applies for the sake of solidarity among members of the profession, such bad smells can never be avoided.

One issue discussed at the 57th congress of the EJ that convened in Prague was the future of the European Union.

The prospect of it being evolved sometime next decade was discussed including its transition into a republic of European citizens with full equal rights including equal pay for equal job, pension, social security and such.

A utopia for now, but many people shared the opinion that such an eventuality might indeed be in the cards if Brexit is ever completed.

There was an incredible attention at the congress to the presence of the Association of Journalists delegation.

Even though there are serious downs in Turkish-EU relations and there is a general acceptance that the EU train of Turkish accession has long left the station without Turkey boarding on and became an issue of the past.

Still, there was a full understanding that if efforts continue to acquire EU norms and values, particularly the Copenhagen political criteria, Turkey’s EU admission might become just a detail and a task that might be again achievable.

Of course, today there are prejudices and an allergy against a Muslim Turkey in the EU. What will be the situation tomorrow, no one can imagine.

But if Turkey manages to acquire EU norms and values, transforms itself to a better democratic governance and eradicates some of the rotten eggs smelling so bad either in the form of a high number of journalists in prisons, as well as continued complaints of ill-treatment, favoritism, nepotism and such governmental failures, will EU membership be
a problem for Europe or an issue for Turks?

freedom of press,