MALAGA, Spain – Agencia EFE’s correspondent in Turkey, Dogan Tiliç, received the International Press Freedom Prize on Thursday from Spain’s University of Malaga, an honor that he dedicated to “all those colleagues who do not bow their heads in the face of pressure and valiantly take on the risks to tell the truth.”
“Only people who are valiant and courageous can ask questions, and journalism is a profession that is all about the art of asking questions,” Tiliç said during the awards ceremony at the University of Malaga UNESCO Chair in Communications.
The Turkish journalist lamented the fact that journalism in his homeland “has distanced itself from the capacity to ask questions” in recent years.
While the two main candidates in the recent U.S. presidential election, Republican and eventual winner Donald Trump, and Democrat Hillary Clinton, took questions at debates, “in Turkey, this does not exist,” Tiliç said.
The journalist discussed the attempted coup on July 15, calling it the “bloodiest and most brutal” in Turkey’s history, and noting that a dozen media outlets were shut down after a state of emergency was declared, with numerous journalists losing their jobs.
“Never in the history of journalism in Turkey have we lived through something like this,” with “some journalists making accusations against their own colleagues to they would be arrested, and government supporters lynching critics via social media,” Tiliç said.
The EFE correspondent noted that journalism “has always been under pressure from governments and media owners.”
In Turkey, “journalists ceased to be the owners of media outlets, ceding that role to holding (companies) that operate in all areas of the economy and have their main interests in construction, energy, mining or tourism,” Tiliç said.
The EFE correspondent said it was important for journalists to be united.
“We journalists are weaker when we distance ourselves from the organizations that unite us,” Tiliç said, adding that less than 2 percent of the members of the media in Turkey belonged to professional associations or unions.
“Organizing is the key to dealing with our problems,” Tiliç said.