TRUSD: Journalists from Turkey and Russia come together in Berlin

19 October 2018

Journalists exchange information on how to survive under authoritarian regimes

Berlin, Germany – The Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a partner of the Media and Law Studies Association, hosted ten Turkish and Russian journalists in Berlin during mid-October as part of the Foundation’s Turkish Russian Dialogue program. The program facilitates discussion about the unique challenges facing journalists and civil society leaders operating in hostile and authoritarian environments.

Over six days participants were able to exchange information and strategies, engage in comparative analysis of the political condition of Turkey and Russia, and talk with exiled journalists living in Germany. Participants also attended workshops on German, Russian and Turkish media and the ongoing challenge of fake news.

Participants included Ekho Moskvy editor Valery Nechai, Rossiskaya Gazeta reporter Anna Skudaeva, Dozhd TV's Ilya Shepelin, Kommersant editor Alexandr Chernykh, Kaliningrad journalist Nikita Kuzmin, former IMC TV anchor Soner Şimşek, freelance journalist and Deutsche Welle contributor Burcu Karakaş, BBC Türkçe reporter Fundanur Öztürk, Gaziantep Telgraf reporter Cihat Öztürk and Banu Tuna from the Daily Hürriyet.

Fake News and Authoritarianism

Gernot Wolfram, a professor of media management at Macromedia University, kicked off the program by hosting a workshop considering the nature of press freedoms in Germany and considering the threat posed by fake news.

The participants then engaged in an afternoon discussion considering the main obstacles they face in Turkey and Russia and how those challenges can be overcome through organizing the journalistic community. Sonja Volkmann-Schluck, a spokesperson for the German Press Council, then joined the participants to discuss the role which the Press Council plays in German civil society.

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Meeting with Exiled Journalists

The group visited the Berlin-based Russian-language TV station OstWest where they met editor-in-chief Maria Makeev. They also visited Taz Gazete, a solidarity project organized by Die Tageszeitung newspaper designed to support persecuted Turkish journalists. Ebru Taşdemir and Ali Çelikkan, the editors of Taz Gazete, are both Turkish exiles.

Participants attended numerous informative and engaging events. The program organized a dinner where participants were able to have dinner with other exiled journalists like Novaya Gazeta's Ali Feruz and Artı TV's Ragıp Duran and Celal Başlangıç. Die Welt, whose Turkish correspondent was detained without an indictment for a year, generously hosted the participants for discussions. Participants were invited to attend a press conference hosted by the Association of Journalists Accredited in the Bundestag. A panel event with Christian Mihr from Reporters Without Borders, Barış Altıntaş from MLSA, Valery Nechai from Novaya Gazeta and Hans Fleck from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation discussed press freedom in Russia and Turkey.

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Experience Sharing

Partticipants found that one of the most useful aspects of the program was the opportunity to share their own experiences regarding the obstacles to independent journalism. This led to a discussion about how self-organization by journalists can assist in overcoming these challenges. Another discussion allowed participants to brainstorm strategies to fight fake news and its insidious impact on professional journalism.

MLSA and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation plan to host more programs where Russian and Turkish journalists and civil society leaders can come together to discuss their mutual challenges.


Updated: November 29 2018