We are all watching in disgust

We are all watching in disgust

MELİS ALPHAN melisalphan@hurriyet.com.tr
In the first book of “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” William L. Shirer depicts Berlin in Nazi-era Germany. Every morning, the editors-in-chief of daily papers based in Berlin and correspondents of papers based in other German cities would meet at the Propaganda Ministry. There, Dr. Joseph Goebbels would tell them or their deputies which stories should be printed, how they should be written, what kind of headlines should be used, which campaigns should be launched and how the editorial should be penned.

In order to avoid any kind of misunderstanding, in addition to verbal instructions there was always a written daily order. For those smaller papers and magazines that were situated out of town, these orders were either sent by telegraph or letter. The German Press Law enacted in 1933 was key in wiping out non-Nazi papers and journalists. Those remaining were more royalist than the king.   

Their survival partially depended on the German Foreign Ministry. The ministry wanted these papers to survive so that the external world would be influenced by them. These papers provided a type of respect and dignity for Nazi Germany and at the same time disseminated the propaganda of the Nazis.

Because what was to be printed and how the stories and columns were to be written was dictated by order to the papers in Germany, the press was fatally inactive. Even the part of the population that was highly disciplined and obedient to the government authority was quickly fed up with daily papers. The sales of all papers fell; they went out of business one after the other, or they were bought by their Nazi publishers.

The main aim of the Nazi press program was to get rid of all the press that opposed the party.
Even if not identical, it is quite a familiar scene… It has become quite official now that the situation is partially similar here, particularly with the leaked “Hello Fatih” voice recording and how certain pro-government businessmen have been made to buy newspapers. Now the effort is to try to rapidly transform into this order entirely.

 But, you know what? Even in Nazi Germany, this disgusting attitude was conducted in a more honest way. At least nobody was denying anything; everything was done openly. 

Here, on the other hand, to this day, several figures in authority keep addressing us through microphones: “What censorship is that? There is no censoring of the press.”

As what was hidden came to light, we have seen that this was a big lie.

Those conversations – decorated with an abundance of swear words – among businessmen about their share of newspapers, saying “You’ve got the best part of the good,” were quite nauseating. However, the saddest was the one in which they kidded with each other, “Now, you have also become a journalist, don’t you dare make a story out of this…”

I was ashamed of my profession.

More precisely, I was ashamed of the pothole my profession has fallen into.

Just as the circulation of the papers under the authority of Nazi Germany fell suddenly; those papers that have been forcibly sold to these men are similarly fighting for their lives. No matter what they do, they cannot prevent the fall in sales; because, nobody is buying those papers anymore.

Why should they?

Dear audience, we are all together watching step by step how a sector, moreover a public service, is being destroyed. I am saying the “audience” because we are all the audience now. There is nothing we can do.

Melis Alphan is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on March 1. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.