The second episode of IPI’s new podcast series IPI Freedom Dialogues: Turkey is out now!

Host Cansu Çamlıbel kicked-off the series last month with a conversation with prominent journalist Kadri Gürsel, the chair of IPI’s Turkey National Committee. Listen to the first episode here. For this second episode, Çamlıbel has interviewed Emre Kızılkaya, IPI Turkey National Committee vice-chair and project editor at Journo.com.tr. Prior to that, Kızılkaya worked for many years as managing editor at the English edition of Turkey’s largest newspaper, Hürriyet, until the company was bought out by pro-government conglomerate Demirören Media Group in 2018.

Recently, Kızılkaya’s work has focused on analysing the actions and impact of tech companies in Turkey. In this episode, Çamlıbel and Kızılkaya dive in particular into the role of Google in supporting pro-government media in Turkey via Google ads and search algorithms. The episode touches on key aspects on Google’s policy in Turkey as seen through Kızılkaya’s research including:

  • The role and importance of big tech companies for Turkish readers’ access to the news
  • Google’s role in today’s news ecosystem and passive support in the spread of hate speech and disinformation in Turkey
  • Google’s varying implementation in different countries of its international standards (e.g., Infowars in the U.S. vs. disinformation sites in Turkey)
  • Why pro-govt media companies are Google’s biggest customers in Turkey
  • Google’s problematic algorithm in Turkish

About IPI Freedom Dialogues: Turkey

The International Press Institute (IPI) is proud to launch the new podcast series
IPI Freedom Dialogues: Turkey, a platform for timely, vital conversations on press freedom, freedom of expression and the future of quality journalism. You’ll get the inside story from some of Turkey’s most trusted editors, journalists and relevant experts as they analyse and shed light on key journalism-related issues in Turkey for both local and international audiences. Episodes will be available in both English and Turkish.

As independent journalism in Turkey faces massive repression, its practitioners are fighting to keep the public informed and reinvent the profession to face the challenges to come. Hear from the experts.

IPI Freedom Dialogues: Turkey is hosted by Cansu Çamlıbel, editor-in-chief of the popular English language news site Duvar English and a member of IPI’s Turkey National Committee. Before joining Duvar, Çamlıbel was the U.S. correspondent of Hürriyet Daily News.

Highlights from the episode (Emre Kızılkaya):

“I can safely say that all big news organizations in Turkey receive at least half of their visitors from Google right now. That’s why they invest heavily in tactics like search engine optimization (SEO) etc. But the problem is much bigger than user experience. Because of these SEO tactics, this clickbait content and photo galleries just inflate page views … The worst thing is they are also able to spread hate speech and disinformation through Google.”

There is a Japanese saying: If the music changes, the dance should also change. The music has changed in Turkey, because now all the big news outlets are directly or indirectly controlled by the government … But Google behaves as if nothing has changed. This has led to the domination of almost all key search results by these partisan, pro-government outlets. “

“In the past, Google removed outlets temporarily, such as Hürriyet or Milliyet, for disinformation, poor quality, or click-bait content, but they don’t do it anymore. I can only explain this either by profit motive or a fear of the government.”