Coward Media

Commentary by Ted Lipien

Coward Media
Coward Media

Istanbul, June 8, 2013. Protest signs on Taksim Square in Istanbul say “Coward Media.” The very few acts of vandalism during the initial days of the anti-government protests in Turkey were directed against TV vans of local networks.

Vandalized TV van on Taksim Square with an anti-NTV sign

Protesters in Turkey were especially angry with CNN Turkish and NTV (MSNBC Turkish). Some of these media outlets have apologized and greatly improved their coverage after a few days, but their credibility has been seriously damaged.

Some media outlets owned by American and multinational media corporations practiced self-censorship to appease the government and protect their business interests in Turkey.

We all remember what happened to Radio Liberty in Russia and the firing of dozens of RL’s Russian journalists.

What do events in Russia and Turkey say about current and former executives of American media corporations being in charge of U.S. international broadcasting as members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)?

This is an especially relevant question when these corporations have a lot of money at stake in countries run by authoritarian regimes. Russia and China are just two examples.

There are definite risks to privatizing U.S. international broadcasting or U.S. public diplomacy if conflicts of interest issues are ignored.

For more on media censorship in Turkey read:

Pinned under government’s thumb, Turkish media covers penguins, not protests, Tom A. Peter, The Christian Science Monitor, June 05, 2013.