It's every investigative reporter's dream come true: A corruption scandal involving the sons of key cabinet ministers, the gold-smuggling Iranian husband of a Turkish pop diva and cowboy contractors bribing and bulldozing their way to incalculable wealth. But don’t expect much honest reporting on what is poised to be the greatest challenge yet to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a decade of uninterrupted rule. You may not get it. This is because honest reporting in Turkey, as I myself found out after being fired by a pro-government daily newspaper in April, can leave you without a job. Worse, it can land you in jail. As the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) put it in a new report, with 40 journalists behind bars, Turkey in 2013 is the “world’s top press jailer once more,” a title that neither China nor Iran have been able to wrest away.
The media has never been free in Turkey. When the generals ran the show, covering radioactive subjects such as their brutal oppression of the Kurds was a risky enterprise. Dozens of Kurdish journalists who ignored the risks were murdered by unknown assailants, their newspaper headquarters firebombed.