Murat Yetkin / Oct 1, 2018
“This is not a goodbye, my darling, this is a thank you” is a quote from the romance novel by Nicholas Sparks titled “Message in a Bottle.”
That could reflect my feelings regarding the dear readers of the Hürriyet Daily News and my dear colleagues whom I have been working with for the last seven and a half years at Turkey’s first English language newspaper. My thanks go to all colleagues I have worked with but I am sure the others would not be offended if I particularly highlight the efforts of Serkan Demirtaş as the Ankara Bureau Chief, and at the Istanbul editorial desk, Barçın Yinanç, Özgür Korkmaz, Ali Kayalar, Emre Kızılkaya and Güneş Kömürcüler; they are all first class editors and beyond from being my colleagues, they are my friends.
I am leaving the paper, which I began working for as editor-in-chief and columnist on May 1, 2011 until today, Oct. 1, 2018. Now, I am passing the flag on to Gökçe Aytulu, who is from a younger generation of Turkish journalists but who has all the qualities and experience to run HDN. We had worked together at the newspaper Radikal and when he was the chief editor of the investigative reporting unit of the Hürriyet newsroom.
The quote above is a romantic one, but it is not easy to define the developments in and around Turkey nowadays with romantic words and expressions.
There are conflicts around which Turkey has become involved, like the one in Syria. There is a serious terrorism problem, economic difficulties have forced the government to shift to austerity policies in a society that has become accustomed to high government spending. The cost of living is on the rise, putting low income layers under more economic pressure. The justice system is under severe criticism locally and internationally.
Russia appears as a bigger factor in Turkey’s strategic choices and as a result, Turkey’s relations with the West are shifting on a mercantilist basis, rather than shifting based on common values, which is desired. The Kurdish issue is on freeze under the circumstances and it is not possible to isolate the state of media from all of these. This is an atmosphere of uncertainties, both for economic and political actors, as well as the men and women on the street.
I believe my time has been up for some time to work under these circumstances; even before the change in Hürriyet’s ownership from the Doğan Group to the Demirören Group, which is not at the core of my decision. I simply do not want to take part in the final stage of the transformation of Turkish media as we know it, perhaps with little desire to witness the birth of the new from within the old.
Under the circumstances, Turkish people are reading newspapers and watching news on television less and less. Therefore, this goodbye is not to reporting. That is also why I do not think of this goodbye as a farewell. I am pretty sure decent Turkish journalism will find its readers and viewers soon, sometime, somewhere.
Until then, goodbye.