Local journalists and representatives of non-governmental organizations from different cities talked about the preparations for Turkey's critical election. The meeting took place upon the call of Dokuz8HABER, the preparations for the election were discussed in the meeting and a forum was held on various proposals.
At the meeting which was held at MMO Lokal on July 29 and 30 with the participation of journalists and NGO representatives from different cities, the significance of local media in the election safety and the fate of Turkey were discussed. Journalists from more than 20 cities shared their own experiences and contributed to the election preparations of dokuz8HABER.
dokuz8HABER Editor-in-Chief Gökhan Biçici told about the experiences of DOKUZ8HABER in the elections, which was established during the 2014 Municipal Elections process, and reminded about the activities of Regional Media Coordination of Election 2019.
“We are preparing for an election to be held as early as the beginning of November. We do not want to be caught unprepared for the critical election of Turkey after all the work we have been putting our efforts in over the course of many years. We have closely monitored 8 elections since March 2014. We are a platform that conducts news-oriented election monitoring in Turkey and takes into account election safety. We are aiming for a comprehensive network with journalists who will monitor the election in 973 districts and with citizen journalists around them.
Biçici emphasized that what they will do in a few months can determine the next 10 years and added:
‘’Where will we find election-related news? Although we do not have an independent national news agency, we have an institution that fulfills this function in every city across Turkey. Now it is necessary to aim to establish a national news agency. Finance and sustainability are the key problems. We aim to create an opportunity without being dependent on any funds. We want to write a success story with a fully independent media''
Biçici stated that they wanted each participant to actively discuss their role in the selection process at the meeting. He emphasized that they took important steps in a short time in the study they announced at the event held in October 2021. He reminded that they had two separate trainings in İzmir and three trainings in Hopa, Samsun and Ereğli in the Black Sea region. Biçici also said that the election news site, sendennehaber.net, is also launched.
Explaining that they are a part of the Election Safety Platform and that they are holding talks focused on civil society to enhance cooperation with various social platforms and civil society, Biçici said that many trainings are being considered within a month or two to prepare for the election, including a raid-election. Gökhan Biçici emphasized that they will meet with several local media outlets across the country including cities like Antalya, Trabzon and regions such as Çukurova, Van.
After Gökhan Biçici's presentation, the meeting continued as a forum. Medeni Sungur, founder of Kuest Media, stated that the presence of a local journalist in all 973 districts is a rare thing and said, “No other media organization has such a capability. It is an exciting process,” he said. Samsun Journalists Association President Mehmet Yazıcı stated that there is a "news agency" problem in Turkey and said, "It is clear that the existing news agencies have a political aspect. We also hear that there are various preparations in this direction. Everyone sees this gap. Turkey will see something different this time.’’
Assoc. Dr. Erkan Saka and Güventürk Görgülü also shared their previous election monitoring experiences and emphasized the significance of monitoring the elections as a reporter.
Healthcare professional Mahfuz Karaaslan shared his experiences as a citizen journalist in the previous elections and stated that the unions have important duties in this regard. Aydın Haberleri Editor-in-Chief Ayşe Yılmaz also touched upon the difficulties of being a woman in the local media and keeping a local media organization alive. Yılmaz emphasized that there is a need for reliable local news flow.
On the second day of the #Election2023 Regional Media Coordination and Citizen News Network Turkey Preparatory Meeting, the role of media and civil society in the framework of Election 2023 and preparation for Turkey's new political period was discussed.
Gökhan Biçici stated that they are considering cooperation with NGOs working in complementary fields, targeting elections. Ertim Orkun, President of the election-safety focused Oy ve Ötesi Association, emphasized that there are studies that civil society and local journalists can do together. Denizcan Sarı from verification network Doğruluk Payı stated that is not possible for an institution to fulfill its verification duties alone in times of crisis, such as during the election period, and offered suggestions on what can be done.
İz Medya Broadcast Coordinator Murat Atilla, Gazete Graffiti Editor-in-Chief Ali Taş, journalist Uğur İstanbullu from Artvin, citizen journalist Ozan Devrim Yay on behalf of the Yaşam Bellek Özgürlük Derneği, Adana Bir Buçuk TV Editor-in-Chief Armağan Kabaklı and other participants gave examples from their own experiences, presented cooperation proposals. Public Health Specialist Dr. Ayşegül Tözeren, on the other hand, reminded that these elections will be the first to be held under pandemic conditions, and said that it is necessary to be ready for all kinds of possibilities.
#Election2023 Regional Media Coordination and Citizen News Network Turkey Preparatory Meeting ended with discussions and the suggestions. New schedules and plans were also considered and work plans for the upcoming period were created.