Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Suppression and Information in the Digital Age

Upon learning that courts authorized government seizure of Zaman, Turkey's largest circulation newspaper, editor in chief Abdulhamit Bilici said, "I believe that free media will continue even if we have to write on the walls.  I don't think it is possible to silence media in the digital age."

His statement reflects the reality of the digital age, that people will be able to get information regardless of the attempts by authorities to suppress information they find inconvenient.  On the one hand, we will have access to the raw material of events.  The one element that is lost, however, with the demise or suppression of traditional journalism is the context for that raw material that helps us understand what it means.

Of course,  traditional journalism has often been used to manipulate readers.  There's rarely been a shortage of media that want us to think one way or another but even so, the variety of diverse journalistic sources has allowed those who want to inquire more deeply into a subject to access different takes on events.  At least that's the theory.  With newsrooms shutting down or laying off staff and the concentration of media under a few corporate owners, those diverse sources are disappearing or greatly diminished.  In their place much of what passes for information on-line is simply opinion or superficially sourced, if at all.  

So I admire Mr. Bilici's defiance and wish him much success in whatever form his next efforts take.  But in the meantime, Turks will have one less perspective on their government.