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Freedom of Media, Democracy and Gezi Park

Authors: Emine Tirali

Abstract:

This article provides a conceptual framework of the freedom of media and its correlation with democracy. In a democracy, media should serve the publics’ right to know and reflect human rights violations and offer options for meaningful political choices and effective participation in civic affairs. On that point, the 2013 events at Gezi Park in Turkey are a good empirical example to be discussed. During the events, when self-censorship was broadly employed by mainstream Turkish media, social media filled the important role of providing information to the public. New technologies have made information into a fundamental tool for change and growth, and as a consequence, societies worldwide have merged into a single, interdependent, and autonomous organism. For this reason, violations of human rights can no longer be considered domestic issues, but rather global ones. Only global political action is an adequate response. Democracy depends on people shaping the society they live in, and in order to accomplish this, they need to express themselves. Freedom of expression is therefore necessary in order to understand diversity and differing perspectives, which in turn are necessary to resolve conflicts among people. Moreover, freedom of information is integral to freedom of expression. In this context, the international rules and laws regarding freedom of expression and freedom of information – indispensable for a free and independent media – are examined. These were put in place by international institutions such as the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the European Union, which have aimed to build a free, democratic, and pluralist world committed to human rights and the rule of law. The methods of international human rights institutions depend on effective and frequent employment of mass media to relay human rights violations to the public. Therefore, in this study, the relationship between mass media and democracy, the process of how mass media forms public opinion, the problems of mass media, the neo-liberal theory of mass media, and the use of mass media by NGOs will be evaluated.

Keywords: Freedom of expression, democracy, public opinion, self-censorship.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1123895

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