With Turkey ranking among the bottom 20 countries globally for press freedom, where over 90 per cent of the media is either directly controlled by the government or ideologically aligned with it, citizens and journalists are finding alternative channels to voice their concerns and criticisms of the government.
While the majority of TV channels in Turkey broadcast government propaganda around the clock, experienced journalists who were purged from pro-government outlets have turned to YouTube to launch their own independent channels.
Social media platforms like Twitter are crucial for dissenting voices, however, they are plagued by organized armies of pro-government trolls spreading constant disinformation, a situation exemplified by the widespread circulation of manipulated videos, such as the recent one showing opposition presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu alongside Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leaders.
In response, citizen journalism and street interviews have emerged as important tools for providing direct, unfiltered news from the field. One such channel on YouTube, known as “Kendine Muhabir” or “Self-appointed Reporter,” aims to amplify the voices of the streets and engage the Turkish public.
In a recent interview translated by Medya News, the channel’s subscriber count skyrocketed to 274 thousand. The episode that contains the interview in question was shot in Istanbul’s Avcılar district, where citizens mostly expressed their intention to vote for Kılıçdaroğlu. However, one man from Rize, Erdoğan’s hometown and stronghold, passionately shared his thoughts as a former AKP supporter who used to love Erdoğan. Several clips from the interview quickly went viral on social media, featuring harsh criticism of Erdoğan, accompanied by religious aphorisms in support of the message. The man goes as far as challenging potential critics, inviting them to object while confidently stating, “If anyone dares to object, I’ll happily beat them with a verse from the Quran.”