Murat Baykara of Voys Media on reaching audiences beyond a devoted leadership.
It is no secret that the vast majority of media outlets in Turkey are under the direct or indirect control of the Turkish government. Although the remaining, tiny pockets of independent journalism are trying their best to carry on with free, unbiased reporting and commentary, press freedom is still being suffocated by government censorship, lawsuits and criminal investigations.
On top of this (now almost structural) issue, there is the problem of independent media struggling to widen its reach beyond a devoted audience that describes itself as anti-government. Sadly, its excuse is the same one used by Turkey's opposition parties every time they lose an election: “What choice do we have under such oppression?”
For me, the urgent question is: after years of urging the political opposition to find new ways to reach and attract a wider audience, is it time Turkey’s independent media did the same?
Where to start?
A week in September gave me new inspiration. The Guardian Foundation organised a training week in London for independent media, in partnership with NewsLabTurkey and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
The Foundation hosted 10 journalists from Turkey's independent media. Sessions presented by Guardian journalists covered a wide variety of topics; human rights reporting, community reporting, documentaries, investigative journalism, reader revenue models, data journalism and social media, to name a few.
Also included in the programme were meetings with colleagues from outside the Guardian. Social Streets (constructive community journalism), Message Heard (podcasts), Bristol Cable (local journalism), Tortoise Media (slow journalism podcasts) and Unbias The News (cross-border collaborative journalism).