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Shooting the Arbiter in Turkey: How Sabah Fired Its Ombudsman

The former ombudsman of Sabah tells his story of the firing that has shaken Turkish journalism and generated international criticism of Turkey’s approach to the media.
Members of the media are fired upon by a water cannon during protests at Kizilay square in central Ankara, June 16, 2013. The unrest, in which police fired teargas and water cannons at stone-throwing protesters night after night in cities including Istanbul and Ankara, left four people dead and about 5,000 injured, according to the Turkish Medical Association. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MEDIA) - RTX10Q1Q

It was early May. I published an important correction in my ombudsman’s column, I guess it was on the first Monday of the month (I could not check the precise date, because the newspaper deleted the ombudsman’s digital archive the day [July 24] after it fired me).

The story in question was a front-page report about a Justice and Development Party (AKP) meeting and contained also the results of a public-opinion poll, which was said to have been commissioned by the AKP and presented to the prime minister. The figures were irrelevant for the ombudsman. What mattered was the objection of the polling company, KONDA, which confirmed conducting the survey but said it was not commissioned by the AKP. It was a simple correction, but still it had to be put on record so as to not mislead the reader.

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