Istanbul, May 26 () - The Doğan Media Group’s Publishing Principles Committee has reaffirmed its commitment to non-partisan, impartial reporting at a meeting in Istanbul, following recent accusations by Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan over daily Hürriyet’s headline reporting the death sentence given to former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
Below is the full text of the Honorary President of Doğan Holding Aydın Doğan’s speech in the meeting:
There is a short time left before the June 7 election. The purpose of this meeting is to evaluate the accordance of our publications regarding publishing principles before general elections.
As we have entered the election process, we have advised all of our friends who are responsible for publications with the following paragraph:
“We are an independent and objective media group. We do not have links to any political party. We are only responsible to readers and audiences. We have to meet their right to demand information through objective reporting. We should be careful not to treat any party unfairly and keep an equal distance from them. The free-will of the voters will make decisions. No one should cover up that will.”
This is all we said.
Our group and media have faced harsh accusations, even slander and threats, since the beginning of the election process. We have been baselessly accused of being Gülenists [the group who has been accused of forming a “parallel structure,” and charged with wiretapping hundreds of thousands of state officials in operations by members employed in the judiciary and police under U.S.-based scholar Fethullah Gülen]. On top of that, we have even been denounced as terrorists. They tried to blame us in the flagrant and vicious murder of prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz in April.
One newspaper put an image of me wearing a hat symbolizing the terrorist organization on its front page. Most recently, we responded to the death sentence given to the elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi with the headline “The world is in shock” on Hürriyet’s website. Unfair implications were relentlessly inferred from this.
We are tied to democracy. There is no free media without democracy, and vice versa.
We can only continue our existence in a free environment under the guarantee of the law. We oppose the death sentence, which has already been banned on our country, and find it outdated. It would be the greatest dishonor to be satisfied with a death sentence of an elected politician, and - most particularly - to show it as an example for Turkey.
Some politicians and pro-government media try to stigmatize us as an adversary without even giving the slightest justification, trying to defame us before the election. We do not respond to the attacks and slanders unless it is necessary.
We endeavor to not abandon our honest and objective publishing style. We never hesitate to apologize and correct if there is a mistake in our publications. In fact, the photo we used while reporting the hostage case of prosecutor Kiraz by terrorists was evaluated as a mistake and against our principles.
We immediately evaluated the situation with our members. We agreed that this evaluation should be immediately announced to the public, and Volkan Vural, the deputy chair of the Doğan Media Group’s Publishing Principles Committee, issued a statement.
While we show this kind of honesty, we are being turned into a target with apparently fabricated news in an unfair and unconscientious way.
I want to emphasize once again that we are neither defying the president and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) nor opposing. We are only journalists. This is our profession. We earn money from this and we publish independently. Neither in the past nor in the present have we had private protection from the government. We do not want any privilege or anything we do not have a right to.
I began working in 1959. I entered myself into the tax system that same year. I come from a rooted family of Anatolia. I have been among the highest level of taxpayers in the country for 40 years.
I have been in the publishing business for 36 years. I am ready to account for every page of my life and every photograph.
But now, some so-called publishers have come into existence. They use their publications to defame me every day. They defame me on their pages as though it was their reason for existence.
I respect those who publish by embracing a worldview and ideology. I also appreciate media organs that support a political party.
However, we are facing a media world contaminated by non-journalists and those who use the media as a screen for other things.
You presumably understand my worry. Their papers do not sell and their TV channels are not watched. They have losses. But no one asks “Where do payments for their expenses come from?”
As a publisher, we are uncomfortable with being shown as an actor in the election campaign. We do not deserve it under any circumstance.
Elections are races between political parties. We are not a party and we are out of this race. It is not convincing to put us forward as a side or antagonize us.
They will not succeed in changing our objective and fair style.
We will keep our equal stance from all parties and objective publishing, which sees no party as an adversary.
Our only desire and aim is to publish independently, to international standards, and contribute to the development of democracy in our country, while maintaining our commercial presence.
I thank all of you for patiently listening to me.