Nieman Foundation at Harvard
The News Lens in Taiwan is doing what media startups in the region hesitate to do — acquiring other sites
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Nov. 22, 2017, 9:04 a.m.
Audience & Social

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism released a Turkey-specific supplement to its annual Digital News Report. The supplement, by Servet Yanatma, offers a look at what it’s like to be a media consumer in a highly polarized environment, where roughly the same percentage of people trust the news overall (40 percent) and distrust it overall (38 percent).

In the U.S., meanwhile, Reuters found that 38 percent of people trust the news overall — but Turkey’s national situation is currently quite different, as outlined in the report:

Turkey has been under a state of emergency since a failed coup in July 2016, in which 248 people were killed and hundreds injured, and the political turmoil has had a significant effect on the freedom and independence of the Turkish media. Turkish authorities have shut down over 160 media outlets, including 56 newspapers, 5 news agencies, 27 TV channels, 30 radio stations, 19 magazines, and 29 publishers, by using powers invested under the state of emergency.

While TV remains a popular source of news, online news (including social media, which 13 percent of respondents cited as their main source of news) is increasing in importance:

Social media is also Turks’ most distrusted main news source: “45% of respondents distrust the news that they use on social media.” Facebook and Twitter have declined in popularity over time, as WhatsApp has increased:

When we look at the change over time in use of these social networks and applications for news, we can see a remarkable decrease in Facebook and Twitter, particularly in the last year, as Facebook fell by ten percentage points and Twitter was down by five points (see Fig 51). However, Turkey is still at the top of list in the use of Twitter for news in all markets.

Furthermore, we see a striking rise in the use of the closed messaging service WhatsApp, which is up 8 percent. This may be linked to a climate where it is not safe for public servants, in particular, to criticize the government on social media, and so people adopt more secure messaging apps for sharing news.

The full report is here. And consider this a reminder that this year, the Nieman Foundation, along with Turkish Philanthropy Funds, has launched the Robert L. Long Nieman Fellowship “to support the work of exceptional Turkish journalists.” Applications are due by December 1.

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