FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
The freedom of expressing news, ideas and thoughts freely with multiplier means is called freedom of the press. This freedom includes freely collecting information and ideas, multiplying them by making comments and criticism, and distributing them.
Freedom of the press is critical to democracies where governments are accountable to the people. A free media acts as the custodian of the people, able to write the wrongs of the government. It announces the confidential works and ensures transparency. The same is true for large companies. The mistakes of companies that sell things to the public can only be made public if there is a free press.
Press freedom has its limits. There is no freedom of press and expression on two fundamental issues. One of them is violence and incitement to violence, and the other is hate crime. That is, you cannot incite violence and you cannot report news that will generate hatred towards some.
The legal guarantee of freedom of the press is a controversial issue that varies from country to country. The US Constitution states, ‘No law can be enacted that restricts the freedom of the press.’ But other countries have different practices. In the constitution of the Republic of Turkey, there is a clause that says, “The press is free, it cannot be censored.”
There are thousands of laws in Turkey that restrict or control the freedom of the press. In a study conducted about 25 years ago on this subject, it was determined that the number of restrictive laws was around 2,000.
The freedom of the press clause in the Constitution protects people from government censorship. Social media platforms are private companies, they can set their own rules and apply censorship. Indeed, Twitter censored former US President Trump’s tweets
Technically, of course, we cannot talk about freedom of the press if there is censorship. However, there are some things that cannot be discussed. If you use expressions containing incitement to violence and hate crimes and spread them on social media, if you push the limits of insult and immorality, this does not fall under the freedom of the press. Social media organizations operate under American law and set their own policies.
Terrorist news and committing a terrorist crime are also very controversial. Before peace was made with the IRA Terrorist Organization, Britain considered it a terrorist crime to report the representatives of this organization in the media. There is a similar sensitivity in Turkey and it has special laws on terrorism. What journalists write about terrorism is often described as “aiding terrorism.” For this reason, journalists who write terrorism-related news are often blamed. In principle, it may be a ‘disproportionate punishment’ to accuse a journalist who did not hold a gun, did not advocate ‘terrorism’ and ‘violence’, and did not commit a ‘hate crime’ as a ‘terrorist’.
As you know, Julian Assange was the founding editor of the website Wikileaks. Wikileaks has published documents on the torture of prisoners at the American Base Guantanamo in Cuba, their extrajudicial executions in Kenya, and the killing of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. These documents, which angered the American government, were leaked by an American soldier, Manning. Indeed, Manning was caught and sentenced to 35 years in prison. When Wikileaks leaked, the world’s leading newspapers such as the New York Times and the Guardian published these news page by page and did not suffer any harm. But the American government never stopped chasing Assange to defame and put him on trial. Because it is not Assange who leaked the document, Assange is an editor who published the document that came to him. That’s why all the world’s media outlets said that Assange should not be extradited to the United States, and they launched a campaign.