Some 300 newspapers, printing houses shut down due to rising paper costs in Turkey

Around 300 local newspapers and printing houses have closed their doors in Turkey due to increases in the price of paper as a result of the fall in value this year of the Turkish lira against the US dollar, according to a report by the Sözcü newspaper on Friday.

Since Turkey has become dependent on imports of paper, local printing houses cannot print enough to meet domestic demand. The Turkish lira has fallen some 40 percent this year due to fears of an economic crisis fueled by high levels of company debt, inflation and unemployment.

İlhami Özcan Aygün, a member of parliament from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), demanded a parliamentary inquiry to examine the price of paper, Sözcü said.

Last month, Turkey’s 98-year-old Official Gazette, in which new laws and regulations are published, announced it would be available online only. Rising printing costs also pushed the Habertürk daily to go digital only in July, while other national newspapers and magazines reduced their number of pages and laid off staff.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 236 journalists and media workers were in jail as of September 20, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 168 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 147 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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