Turkey’s pro-government Vatan newspaper ends print edition

Turkey’s pro-government Vatan newspaper on Wednesday announced that it will terminate its print operations after Nov. 1 and go digital only, according to a report by online news outlet T24.

Founded in 2002, the Vatan newspaper, along with Milliyet, was sold in 2011 to Demirören Holding, which is known for its close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Vatan columnist Ercan İnan announced that the newspaper, one of five owned by the Demirören group, will put out its last print edition on Thursday. In an official statement the newspaper’s administration also announced that Vatan’s 16 years in print had come to an end and that all efforts would be exerted to ensure that the newspaper’s staff would be minimally affected by the decision.

Around 300 local newspapers and printing houses have shut down in Turkey due to increases in the price of paper as a result of the fall in value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar this year.

Turkey has become dependant on imports of paper as local printing houses do not make 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.

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 237 journalists and media workers were in jail as of October 17, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 169 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 148 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. (SCF with Ahval)

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