Media and Democracy in Turkey; the Kurdish Issue

Ekmel Gecer


Media and Democracy in Turkey; The Kurdish Issue


A Doctoral Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Award of 

the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University, Department of Social Sciences

September 2014


Over recent years, there has been an intense and polarised debate about the extent of democratisation in Turkey, although this has tended to be defined in institutional terms (for example, in the supposed reduction in the military tutelage of the political system and the institutional recognition of minority rights). This study seeks to widen the terms of reference by examining the current challenges confronted by the Turkish media within the media-democracy relationship and, using the Kurdish question as a case study, examines the extent to which mainstream Turkish Media are contributing to deliberative democracy. It also seeks to identify where the Turkish media should be most appropriately located within competing models of media and democracy.

This analysis of the challenges confronted in achieving and protecting media freedoms in Turkey is based on three empirical exercises. Semi-structured elite interviews were conducted with representatives from most of the mainstream media organisations in the country. Interviews were also conducted with political party representatives, NGO members and academics to ascertain their opinions of the media’s democratic performance and credentials and also explore the extent to which they engage with journalists and news organisations routinely in their work. Finally, a content analysis of the coverage/content of two specific events related to the Kurdish Issue (the launch of the Kurdish language TV Channel TRT6 and Uludere Airstrike) in five mainstream Turkish newspapers was conducted.

The interviews reveal sharply contrasting views about the extent to which democratisation processes are progressing in Turkey, and identify a range of barriers that continue to inhibit the democratic performance of the mainstream media (e.g. commercialisation, state censorship, and other forms of political pressure). The detrimental impact of these factors is to a large degree confirmed by the content analysis of coverage of the Kurdish issue, but the analysis also shows that news output does contain a degree of diversity and difference. For this reason, it is not appropriate to conceive of the Turkish media as acting entirely as a closed message system for political elites.

Key Words: Media, democracy, press freedoms, media models, deliberative democracy, Turkey, Kurdish Issue, multiculturalism


This Ph.D. thesis available on CHMWK Website Studies Page via below link:

GECER, E., 2014. Media and Democracy in Turkey; The Kurdish Issue