Volume 15, Number 10
November 25, 2008

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This Week

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The Procrastinator

bilwriteThe Freak Show

It is supposed to be trustworthy and accurate, but, at best, it is strange and funny, and at worst, horrifyingly subjective, distorted, and often provocative. Similar examples exist around the world. It may seem to be a trivial problem, but it worries me.

What I'm criticizing is Turkish online media - web sites of mainstream newspapers and other news portals. For some, they serve the purpose of delivering manipulative news, a stream of exclamation marks, images of half-naked women, and twisted headlines designed to shock rather than inform.

Although there are alternatives, many go to these sites for information, and to me this is where the problem occurs. The reader gets a distorted understanding of journalism. The role and function of the media is constantly being debated. The online "revolution" has only made it more complicated. Daily papers, in the first place, are expected to provide fast, accurate news, and objective, insightful commentary on current events. Notes about culture, interpretation of economic figures, and football match results are part of this. They try to attract every segment of society. As it gets harder to impress, shock or gain the appreciation of today's information saturated readers, ethics, rationality, and sense are all disregarded. The result is a bombardment of headlines: "10 Killed in Accident", "Gang Pimping Young Girls is Caught", "Dreadful Confessions of a Father", "The Funniest Pictures of the Week" and "Female Footballers Playing in Mud. Click to See Their Pictures". What a freak show.

News must be delivered. People are interested in what is going on. But, should newspapers present stories of funny pictures and beautiful women on the same level of importance as politics and economics? Should newspapers be presenting these stories at all? My answer is no. There should be border lines. A serious paper should and must not stoop so low just to attract more visitors.

I saw a feature some weeks ago - a news story about the findings on neanderthal women, presented under the headline "The First Woman." It was ironic to see her among the galleries of long-legged beauties. The illustrated "first woman," with her wild, scared eyes, seemed to be looking at the the nearby pictures of rape victims, the economic crisis, the beauty secrets of Hollywood stars, and stray dogs poisoned by municipalities, and was trying figure out at what point in history humanity became so lost.

Damla Okay(AMER/IV)

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