Turkey’s business newspaper lays off 40 employees due to financial troubles

Turkey’s prestigious economy newspaper Dünya has let 40 staff members go over the last two days as a result of financial problems, the Gerçek Gündem news website reported on Friday.

Among those dismissed were two deputy executive editors, an editorial coordinator, reporters and members of the graphics department as well as members of the distribution network.

Reports recalled that a while ago the newspaper’s chief editor, Hakan Güldağ, had resigned in protest of the reduction-in-force proposed by management and later returned to his job upon management’s insistence.

The layoffs came on the heels of previous reports claiming that the newspaper had not been able to pay employees’ salaries for the last three months and that it recently reduced its number of pages from 24 to 12 as a result of rising paper costs in parallel with a loss in value of the Turkish lira.

There are also rumors that employees will not be paid for an extended period of time and that those who have been dismissed are anxious about receiving their back pay and severance payments.

Another report by T24 suggested that although paper costs are primarily blamed for the dismissals, debts in foreign currencies were what really shook the newspaper’s financial structure since it distributes a number of foreign publications in Turkey.

Hürriyet parts ways with veteran columnist Akyol

Meanwhile, the Hürriyet daily, once considered the flagship of the Doğan Media Group, which was sold to the pro-government Demirören Group in March, has parted ways with renowned columnist Taha Akyol. T24 reported that Akyol’s latest article, in which he bids farewell to his readers, would be published in Hürriyet on Friday.

Since the sale of the Doğan Media Group, which was the largest media group in Turkey, to the Demirören Group, then owned by the late businessman Erdoğan Demirören, dozens of journalists have lost their jobs. The daily’s Editor-in-Chief Fikret Bila and columnist Melis Alphan resigned shortly after the sale.

Akyol, who used to write articles on mainly judicial issues, began to write for Milliyet in 1991, which was then owned by the Doğan Media Group, and then for Hürriyet in 2011.

According to T24, Akyol was informed about the daily’s decision to part ways on Thursday by Hürriyet Editor-in-Chief Vahap Munyar, who offered his apologies and reportedly said the decision was made by the Demirören family, not himself.

It was reported on Friday that Mehmet Yılmaz, another veteran columnist of the daily was also sacked.

The Doğan Media Group was sold to Demirören for $1,1 billion shortly before general and presidential elections held in Turkey on June 24. Many interpreted the sale of the Doğan Media Group as an attempt by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to take the Turkish media under his absolute control because the Demirören family is known for its close ties to Erdoğan and his government.

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 Sept. 13, 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 the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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