This study will examine the press during Istanbul under occupuation first and then will analyse the Istanbul press within the three Republican periods: i.e. 1923-1950, 1950-1980 and post-1980, with the goal of evaluating the Istanbul press during the Republican era.
Istanbul was under occupation of the Entente Powers during 1918-1923 and their censorship was in force. A polarization is observed within the Istanbul press following the start-up of the Kuvâ-yı Milliye movement. The opponents of the Kuvâ-yı Milliye made their voice heard through Peyâm-ı Sabah, which was established by the merging of Ali Kemal’s Peyâm (News) newspaper and Mihran’s (a famous newspaper owner) Sabah (Morning) newspaper; as well as through Pehlivan Kadri and Refi Cevat’s Alemdar (Standardbearer) Refik Halit’s Aydede (Full Moon).
Those who supported Kuvâ-yı Milliye İleri (Advanced) newspaper of Celal Nuri’s who was the spokesman of Kuvâ-yı Milliye supporters in Istanbul-; Akşam (Evening) newspaper published by Necmettin Sadak, Kâzım Şinasi Dersan, Ali Naci Karacan and Falih Rıfkı Atay; Vakit (Time) newspaper published by Ahmet Emin Yalman and Mehmet Asım Us; Tasvîr-i Efkâr (Illustration of Opinions) published by Velid Ebüzziya and Tevhîd-i Efkâr (Unity of Opinions) published by the same person when the previous newspaper was shut down by the occupying forces. Moreover, there was Ahmed Cevdet’s renowned newspaper İkdam (Endeavour) and Ahmed Midhat Efendi’s famous newspaper Tercüman-ı Ahvâl (Interpretation of State of Affairs) under the administration of Şükrü Baban, which was published at a more moderate level. One of these two newspapers, Tercüman-ı Ahvâl, was shut down in 1922 and the other, İkdam, began to support Kuvâ-yı Milliye following Yakup Kadri’s participation in the editorial team.
Ahmet Emin -who left Vakit not long before the Republic- began to publish his newspaper Vatan (Homeland) on March 26th, 1923, which later became very famous; and Hüseyin Cahit began to publish his former newspaper Tanin (Resonance) after he returned from exile in Malta in 1922.
The newspapers that opposed Kuvâ-yı Milliye were shut down when the War of Independence succeeded; Mihran, who was the owner of Peyâm-ı Sabah, hoped to save the day by firing Ali Kemal from the newspaper and by changing the name of the newspaper to Sabah; but he had to escape to France when he figured out that he was wrong. Ali Kemal was abducted from Istanbul and lynched by the public after the provocation of Sakallı Nureddin Pasha in İzmit. Refik Halit, Refi Cevat and Pehlivan Kadri were on a list of 150 persons who were exiled abroad.
This was the circumstances for the Istanbul press when the Republic was established..
THE ISTANBUL PRESS DURING 1923-1950
The periods between 1923-1925 and 1945-1950, duration of twenty-seven years, reflects a relatively more independent journalism. On the other hand, between 1925-1945 there was a more uniform journalism under single party rule.
It seems that the newspapers Vatan, Tanin, Tevhîd-i Efkâr and newly appearing Son Telgraf (Last Telegram) did not agree with the government in Ankara on some issues following the promulgation of the Republic. Principally, the Promulgation of the Republic and the abolition of the Caliphate were the most important issues among others. Akşam and Vakit newspapers were in favour of Ankara while İkdam was moderate. Celal Nuri’s İleri newspaper was shut down in 1924 but then was replaced by a new newspaper, which later became much stronger. This newspaper is the Cumhuriyet (Republic) newspaper founded by Yunus Nadi who was one of the bravest supporters of Atatürk and who used to publish Yeni Gün (New Day) in Ankara during the National Struggle. The Government explicitly supported the newspaper and provided the renowned red mansion, which used to be the headquarters for the Committee for Union and Progress, to be used by Yunus Nadi. They also transferred the machines from Minasyan’s printing house, who was of Armenian origin and escaped abroad when he was accused of treason, to Cumhuriyet newspaper. Thus, a powerful supporter of the Ankara government existed within the Istanbul press.
When the course of events following the promulgation of the Republic and the election of Mustafa Kemal as president made it clear that the caliphate would be abolished, particularly Tanin and Tevhîd-i Efkâr began rigorous criticism. For example, Hüseyin Cahit from Tanin, who expected that Mustafa Kemal would desired the caliphate for himself, wrote: “Even those men who has the highest spirits could not resist the appeal of owning power individually.”
Lütfi Fikri, President of the Bar, published a letter about the caliphate at Tanin twelve days after the promulgation of the Republic. Furthermore, an interview with Rauf Orbay who moved to the opposing side and finally Ağa Han’s and Emir Ali’s letters asking for the preservation of the caliphate were published at Vatan. At this point, Ankara lost its patience and sent an Independence Tribunal to Istanbul under the presidency of Topçu İhsan Bey to arrest Hüseyin Cahit, Velid Ebüzziya and Ahmed Cevdet Bey. In fact, this was only Ankara’s way to intimidate the opposing journalists in Istanbul and the defendants were released. A meeting was organized in Izmir on February 4, 1924 to mediate between Ankara and the Istanbul press with the presence of Mustafa Kemal. Editors-in-chief of Istanbul newspapers were invited to the meeting. Mustafa Kemal rejected to meet with Velid Ebüzziya although he had invited him and he only talked with the rest of the group. In this manner Ankara was showing its teeth. Meanwhile, Terakkiperver Cumhuriyet Fırkası (Progressive Republican Party) was established and started opposition within the parliament. Opponent Istanbul press expressed their pleasure about this initiative although they did not want to agitate Ankara too much.
It rendered things easier to make the Istanbul press submit to the Ankara when Sheikh Said Rebellion started next year in 1925 and Takrîr-i Sükûn Law (The Law on Maintenance of Order) was enacted following this incident. First Son Telgraf and Tevhîd-i Efkâr and later Tanin and Vatan were shut down because of this law. Not only the newspapers were shut down, but also those who had responsibility for it were arrested. Hüseyin Cahit was tried by Ankara Independence Tribunal and sentenced life-long exile in Çorum. Although he was released after some time on bail thanks to Hakkı Tarık Us, who used to be among the owners of Vakit (one of the supporters of Ankara) and was a member of the parliament at that time, he could not work as a journalist again until 1939.
Meanwhile, Zekeriya Sertel and Cevat Şakir were exiled to Sinop and Bodrum respectively due to their stories published in a magazine. The real danger was observed during the trials at Elazığ Independence Tribunal. The officers of Tevhîd-i Efkâr, Son Telgraf and Vatan newspapers were arrested after it was claimed that they were related to the East Rebellion. Tevhîd-i Efkâr’s Velid Ebüzziya, Son Telgraf’s Sadri Etem and Feyzi Lütfü Karaosmanoğlu; Vatan’s Ahmet Emin, Ahmet Şükrü Esmer and İsmail Müştak Mayakon were also tried by the same tribunal. As we learn from Yalman’s memories the trials continued in a tragicomic way. The defendents and the judges had their breakfasts and suppers together and the trials continued during the day. Mazhar Müfit Bey, the president of the Independence Tribunal, had a tolerant approach and he recounted his lecherous stories to the accused during the breakfasts and suppers. However, the member Ali Saib Bey was very harsh: sometimes he would say to Ahmet Emin, “You are going to be hanged; don’t worry, it is not very hard, it will hurt at most like having a tooth pulled out.” he would say, “Luckily you have saved your life, you are going to be on life-long exile at Çapakçur, you will not see your child-to-be-born before he is 20.”
The journalists wrote an apology letter addressing Mustafa Kemal on the advice of the president of the tribunal after being for quite a while during this tragicomic trial. Only Abdülkadir Kemali Bey, who was among the defendent journalists and the owner of the Toksöz (Outspoken) newspaper published in Adana, did not sign this letter. The President sent the letter to the tribunal and asked to take it into consideration. Thus, those who penned the letter were released under the condition that they would not work as a journalist any more. Abdülkadir Kemali Bey was also released after a while.
Velid Ebüzziya, one of those journalists, published Zaman (Time) newspaper in 1934 after he was pardoned but he was not successful. Ahmet Emin Yalman could not work as a journalist until 1936 when Atatürk pardoned him at the request of his wife. On the other hand, Sadri Etem, Ahmet Şükrü Esmer and İsmail Müştak Mayakon adopted their attitudes and attained good relations with Ankara; Sadri Etem became a member of parliament, Ahmet Şükrü became a professor at the university and İsmail Müştak became a messmate of Atatürk during his last days.
After this elimination, the Istanbul press consisted of Cumhuriyet, Akşam, İkdam, Son Saat (Last Hour) and Vakit newspapers, which were in good relationship with Ankara. Milliyet (Nationality), which was established by the contributions of Turkey İş Bank, joined these newspapers in 1926. Mahmut Soydan, who was a friend of Mustafa Kemal from Thessaloniki and a member of parliament from Siirt, was in charge of the newspaper. The editors-in-chief of all of these newspapers (except İkdam) became members of parliament. Almost all of these editors-in-chief were also the newspaper owners.
The İzmir assassination incident in 1926 increased the Istanbul newspapers’ tendency to obey even more. However, a danger was at the door for them and this was the Language Reform that took place in 1928 and was enacted immediately. The lack of a transition period resulted in two main problems:
1- The staff creating the sets of letters and binding the pages had to learn the new letters very quickly.
2- Printing houses had to discharge the cases full of Arabic letters and refill them by Latin letters, which was a new cost.
However, the most important problem was the significant decline in circulations. For example, Cumhuriyet could only sell 5,700 issues although its circulation used to be 11,500. Milliyet’s circulation declined to 5,250 from 10,000; Vakit’s declined from 7,000 to 2,700; Son Saat’s declined from 6,000 to 1,500; and Akşam’s from 4,000 to 1,300. The most dramatic decline was what happened to İkdam, which was published by Ahmed Cevdet Bey since 1894 (for thirty-four years): when its circulation declined to 3,100 from 8,000, its owner decided to sell it on December 1928. Although Ali Naci Karacan, who used to work at this newspaper for a while, bought it, the newspaper was shut down in a year. Karacan re-published İkdam in 1939 but failed again.
The government decided to support the press after these unfavourable developments and this support continued for about two years and relieved the newspapers.
Mustafa Kemal attempted a new initiative when the impact of the Great Economic Depression was also observed in Turkey in 1930 and he had his close friend Fethi Okyar establish Serbest Cumhuriyet Fırkası (Liberal Republican Party). This event resulted in a surge in the Istanbul press. Four experienced journalists; namely, Zekeriya Sertel, Selim Ragıp Emeç, Ekrem Uşaklıgil and Halil Lütfi Dördüncü, published Son Posta (Last Post) within the same year. Son Posta positioned itself right next to Serbest Fırka but its criticisms were cautious. However, the really significant opposition was put forth by Yarın (Tomorrow) newspaper published by Akif Oruç, one of the experienced journalists. Prime Minister İsmet İnönü and CHP (Republican People’s Party) was harshly criticized; these criticisms received great attention from the opponent public opinion. The circulation of the newspaper reached a figure that was unthinkable at that time; i.e. 80,000. It was said that the unavailable issues were sold for 2 liras in the black market, which was a significant amount back then. However, this opposition period did not last long, only for one hundred days, and Fethi Okyar dissolved the party and went to the London Embassy.
CHP was again the single party and it took its revenge particularly from Yarın newspaper. Arif Oruç had to escape to Bulgaria; he was able to return to the country after many years but he could only earn his living by writing historical novels and interviews for the newspaper under the Ayhan pen name.
The Istanbul press was controlled through the new press law and amendments within the penal code in 1931. Thus, the government gained the opportunity to shut down any newspaper and magazine any time it desired. Therefore, the Istanbul press tried to be in full harmony with the government without any conflicts from this point on. A typical example of this harmony was observed at Vakit newspaper: when the purification of language occupied the agenda heavily in 1936, the name of the newspaper was changed to Kurun (Ages) at the request of Atatürk and became his favourite. Atatürk penned an editorial there under the signature of Hakkı Tarık Us when the Hatay issue occurred in 1937.
Meanwhile, new newspapers were published in the Istanbul press anyway. This process was accelerated when Atatürk pardoned the journalists sentenced in the 1925 incidents. As its owner, İş Bank planned to sell the Milliyet newspaper after the death of Mahmut Soydan who used to be the Member of Parliament from Siirt and the editor-in-chief of the newspaper. First Ali Naci Karacan bought the newspaper and changed its name into Tan (Dawn) but he was not successful. Ahmet Emin, Zekeriya Sertel and Halil Lütfi Dördüncü bought Tan newspaper in 1936 and the newspaper undersigned a very successful start-up by a circulation of 40,000. Yalman would leave Tan after two years when the newspaper was shut down for three months because of an article he wrote and would re-established his own newspaper Vatan in 1940. Tan was taken over by Zekeriya Sertel and his wife Sabiha Sertel after Ahmet Emin’s departure and it received appreciation from its readers.
Ethem İzzet Benice bought Zaman newspaper, which was published by Velid Ebüzziya in 1934 and did not succeed, in 1937 and published under the name, Son Telgraf. İlhami Sefa (older brother of Peyami Safa) and Cemalettin Saraçoğlu started to publish Yeni Sabah (New Morning) in 1938. Both of these newspapers reached a certain number of readers. Hüseyin Cahit Yalçın, who gained a reputation thanks to the presidency of İsmet İnönü in 1939, re-published his newspaper Tanin. Velid Ebüzziya’s nephew Ziya Ebüzziya re-published Tasvîr-i Efkâr in 1940. Two renowned journalists supported him; namely, Peyami Safa and Cihat Baban, and Velid Ebüzziya wrote the editorials, until his death in 1945.
A difficult era for the Istanbul press started on September 1, 1939 when the Second World War began. Due to the the authority of the government to shut down the newspapers, on the one hand, and the imposition of martial law and the authority of the martial law commander to shut down newspapers anytime, on the other hand, the Istanbul press was exposed to double pressure. All newspapers, except Vakit and Akşam, were shut down for several times until 1945. However, the one shut down most was Ziyad Ebüzziya’s Tasvîr-i Efkâr, which would be published under the title of only Tasvîr (Illustration) later on. This newspaper was shut down for long or short periods forty-seven times. One of the reasons for the closure was that Mevhibe İnönü’s photograph had been published on the third page, not on the first page, when she visited a school in Ankara. Cumhuriyet came second after Tasvîr in terms of the number of shutdowns.
This pressure on the press had been relatively lighter between 1939-1942 and General Director for Press and Broadcast of the time, renowned foreign affairs officer, Selim Sarper communicated with the newspapers the orders we exemplify below each day particularly between 1942-1943 when the fate of the war turned out to be clear:
Big headlines shall only be used for domestic news in the newspapers; foreign news shall be lined on a single column and they shall not bear headlines larger than 12-point font size. No other foreign news shall be published apart from those provided by General Directorate of Press and Broadcast and Anatolia Agency. Publications on regimes and ideologies other than the Turkish regime and its ideology shall not be published even in the name of analysis.
Meanwhile, the polemics among Cumhuriyet, Tanin, Tan and Vatan newspapers were banned by the following order, “The certain polemics that attract attention and occupy a considerable space in the Istanbul press shall definitely end by tomorrow morning.”
This rigid governance resulted in dramatic practices from time to time. For example, Cumhuriyet newspaper, which used to be the most credited newspaper of Atatürk’s era, was frequently shut down by thin excuses since its owner Yunus Nadi fell from grace before İnönü. One of the reasons for its closure was that the newspaper had not made a large enough comment in the first page on the ceremony, where National Leader’s sons Ömer and Erdal İnönü received their brevets after successfully completing the glider course offered by Turkish Aeronautical Association.
Ahmet Emin Yalman, who was fed up with this unnamed censorship, said to Prime Minister Şükrü Saraçoğlu in 1942 that, “We are getting into trouble because of these practices. However, if you explicitly execute a censor, both you and we would be relieved.” Nevertheless, Saraçoğlu’s response was interesting, “I do not execute censor, because it is banned by the constitution. But you shall know your place, shall not go beyond it, and be punished if you ever go beyond it.”
Actually the Istanbul press was divided into two as supporters of the German and the English during the early years of the war. Cumhuriyet and Tasvîr were in favor of the Germans; Tanin, Tan and Vatan were in favor of the English. We understand that the government allowed this on purpose during these years when it pursued a balanced policy between those two powers. Because İnönü’s policy of the day was to steer both sides; accordingly, he steered the German by Nadir Nadi at Cumhuriyet, by Ali İhsan Sabis and Peyami Safa at Tasvîr and he steered the English by Hüseyin Cahit at Tanin, Zekeriya and Sabiha Sertel at Tan and by Ahmet Emin at Vatan. Meanwhile, when polemics showed up between the newspapers supporting opposite powers and when these polemics reached a dangerous point, there would be an immediate intervention as we have mentioned above.
When the newspapers of those days are thus analyzed, the situation we have explained above is seen clearly. Nadir Nadi stated in an editorial he wrote on July 1940 that, “Today, a German power is experienced in Europe. It derives from the German Unity. And this unity is not a work of one or several persons, but a work of a developing idea and therefore history... European States should see the reality and should assign their routes accordingly.”
He wrote about the harms of “dragging people to war together with the English imprudently” the day after this article was published. Nadir Nadi visited the German forces occupying Russia in Crimea the next year. Retired General Hüseyin Hüsnü Erkilet published his interview with Hitler in Germany, where he was invited as a special guest, in a newspaper series for several days. Ali İhsan Sabis, one of the contested commanders of the War of Independence, also wrote for Tasvîr that the war was proceeding in favour of the Germans.
On the contrary, Ahmet Emin and Hüseyin Cahit went to London, the capital city of England, and penned articles reflecting their ideas.
This situation changed by 1943 when the USA joined the war and Germany was dragged to a dead-end in Russia and when it was understood that final victory would be in favour of the Allies. The entire Istanbul press changed its approach and began to write in favour of them. This situation was definitely a result of orders by the government.
This rigid governance and alignment with the government policy continued until 1945 when the war ended. When Germany unconditionally surrendered on May 1945, the Istanbul press began a race uniformly to write about how terrible Hitler and Nazism were.
Meanwhile, an important development occurred and Soviet Russia voiced demands from Turkey over the Bosporus and requested primarily for Kars and Artvin. This caused great concern throughout the country. Eyes were turned towards the USA and it was thought that to enhance relations with the USA it was necessary to get democratized; this was a process that would end with the establishment of Demokrat Parti (Democrat Party - DP). However, concurrently a reaction against Soviet Russia expanded in a condensed way. This reaction resulted in one of the most tragic incidents of Turkish press history experienced by Tan newspaper. Tan was known for its closeness with the Soviets and made this clear within its lines -although not explicitly- by emphasizing the need for friendship with Soviet Russia. Tan asked that war riches be brought to account in its editorial and it was explicitly supporting the newly established DP.
A group of journalists, who were specifically led by Hüseyin Cahit who had very good relations with CHP and İnönü in those days, published harshly against Tan. Hüseyin Cahit wrote in his newspaper Tanin on December 3, 1945, “Oh, friends of the homeland, stand up! Struggle begins and should begin. Because we cannot let them pour down the cruellest and ruthless poison of propaganda... It is not government’s responsibility to silencethem and respond them. The word belongs to the journalists and free citizens who have their pens.”
This was a sign; university students were summoned for a march against Tan newspaper the next day by an organization of Alaettin Tiritoğlu, the CHP Istanbul party inspector. Almost 10,000 young people gathered on December 4, 1945; they attacked Tan newspaper and razed it to the ground. The police was content with solely watching these incidents. Although Martial Law Commander Asım Tınaztepe communicated a notice the next day declaring that the perpetrators of this incident would be harshly punished, there was not any initiative of this regard. Moreover, Zekeriya and Sabiha Sertel were arrested and were acquitted after a trial of six months. The Sertel family escaped first to France in 1950, then moved to East Germany and worked at Bizim Radyo (Our Radio) broadcasting against the Western Front. Sabiha Sertel passed away in Baku in 1968 and Zekeriya Sertel passed away in Paris in 1980. Zekeriya Sertel had a chance to come back to his homeland before his death and wrote his memoires.
İnönü undertook some initiatives, accepting that single party/single leader government could not last longer any longer, when he desired to establish good relations with the Western Front lead by the USA against Russia. Celal Bayar, Adnan Menderes, Fuat Köprülü and Refik Koraltan left CHP and established DP by a memorandum written by all of them. The first direct election was held in 1946 but the system was based on open voting-secret counting (!) and there were claims of fraud at many election sites. Despite all, DP began access to the parliament and put forward a significant opposition against CHP rule. CHP undertook some initiatives to demonstrate that a democratic regime was in force now within TBMM (Turkish National Assembly) recently assembled on June 1946. One of these was the amendment in the Press Law. The law, which allowed the government to shut down newspapers, was abolished with this act and the relatively most independent period for press since the promulgation of Republic began.
All newspapers in Istanbul, except for Akşam and Vakit, which had always been in favour of CHP, were publishing in favour of DP at the beginning of 1946. Necmettin Sadak, one of the owners of Akşam, was the Minister of Foreign Affairs; however, it is possible to claim that Akşam pursued a moderate publishing policy under the administration of chief clerk and experienced journalist Enis Tahsin Til. On the other hand, Vakit was a newspaper with very low circulation. Hüseyin Cahit’s Tanin newspaper, which unconditionally supported CHP, was forced to be shut down in 1947.
Particularly Vatan, Son Posta and Tasvîr were fully in favour of DP; Cumhuriyet pursued a more moderate voice although it supported DP as well. On the other hand, Son Saat, Son Telgraf and evening paper Gece Postası (Evening Post), also published by Ethem İzzet Benice, were non-political newspapers, which did not have a very dominant place. This approach favouring DP was taken into consideration by the executives of this new party during 1950 elections and Selim Ragıp Emeç, the editor-in-chief and owner of Son Posta, Ziyad Ebüzziya, the owner of Tasvîr newspaper, and Nadir Nadi who took on the administration of Cumhuriyet following the death of his father, were elected as members of parliament out of DP lists.
The 1946-1950 years also witnessed interesting changes with regard to the development of new newspapers. Mehmet Faruk Gürtunca, who published children’s magazines such as Çocuk Sesi (Child’s Voice) and Afacan (Zazzy) and poetry books titled Dokunmayın Bu Aslana (Set This Lion Free) reflecting a nationalist approach, began to publish Hergün (Everyday) newspaper in 1947. This newspaper, which appealed mostly middle and lower class readers, was also pro-DP and similar to the other ones, its owner became a member of parliament out of DP list. Hergün was also noteworthy because it opened its pages to the wrestler series by Murat Sertoğlu and dramatic novels by Kemalettin Tuğcu.
The Istanbul press was introduced to one of its most important representatives-to-be, Hürriyet (Freedom), on May 1, 1948. Sedat Simavi, who had been particularly successful in magazine publishing since 1920s and who earned a well-deserving reputation at Babıali1 thanks to his renowned Yedigün (Sevendays) magazine, established Hürriyet newspaper by spending his entire capital. Thanks to his experience, he imported a printing machine from America, which could print 45,000 five-colored newspapers in an hour and appeared before the readers with a newspaper in a completely new style. All Istanbul streets were adorned with the commercials of the newspaper before its release. Interview, article and series authors who would be read with ease and delight were included in the newspaper staff. Especially, there was a large photograph section, which was not very common among the other newspapers, managed by experienced press photographer Ali Ersan. Comics imported from America were offered through local implementations to readers under the names of Fatoş, Güngörmüş Ailesi (Worldly-wise Family); on the other hand, American detective comics Detective Nick was offered in its original form. Hürriyet’s characteristic was to allow slots on weekends for historical stories and comic strips drawn and written by expert illustrator Ratip Tahir. This was done to allow an unprecedented space for sports within the newspaper and to pen the news in a way that was also comprehensible to the average readers. The first breakthrough of the newspaper was to attend the 1948 London Olympics with a large number of staff. Photographs of Turkish wrestlers who won six gold medals during the Olympics were immediately printed. Contrary to the thinking of old-school Babıali friends who claimed that “Sedat Simavi would certainly go bankrupt,” the newspaper reached a number of 30,000 readers, which was not bad at all in its early days. This figure rose to 83,000, which was quite striking for those days, in 1950. Simavi allocated the left of the first page of the first issue to an article by İsmet İnönü and the right to an article by Celal Bayar and thus made it clear that it would move on without discriminating between these two parties.
Yeni Sabah newspaper realized the same development in a different way. Cemalettin Saraçoğlu, who became the owner of the newspaper on his own by buying İlhami Safa’s rights, sold his newspaper in 1948 to a businessman named Safa Kılıçlıoğlu. Kılıçlıoğlu was the first entrepreneur who was not from Babıali who owned an important newspaper. The heads of all newspapers published until then were former journalists; Kılıçlıoğlu changed this for the first time and he managed to escalate Yeni Sabah to high circulation similar to Hürriyet. Through move after move, he gave indication that he was a smart businessman.
Years-long journalist Ali Naci Karacan spent all his wealth like Sedat Semavi and began to publish Milliyet on May 3, 1950. The actual improvement of this newspaper occurred during the 1950s, particularly when Abdi İpekçi became the chief clerk.
Another important newspaper published during 1946-1950 was Yeni İstanbul (New Istanbul) published by Habip Edip Törehan who undertook several enterprises in Germany in 1930s. He earned a good amount of money and moved to Switzerland later on and his wealth became a legend. This newspaper preferred to address a more elite class rather than the masses unlike Hürriyet. The executive office of the newspaper was for the first time out of Babıali across from the Beyoğlu Municipality. The newspaper was published with a blue headline and included Reşat Nuri Güntekin, Refik Halit Karay, Reşat Nuri Drago, Vedat Nedim Tör, Fikret Adil, Ömer Sami Çoşar, Abdülhak Şinasi Hisar and even Falih Rıfkı Atay, all renowned journalists and intellectuals of the time, among its staff. It turned out to be the first newspaper where Bedii Faik, Tarık Buğra and İlhan Selçuk, who would become expert journalists in the following periods, worked. The owner of the newspaper, Habip Edip Törehan, undertook the task to write the editorial. This somewhat aristocratic-looking enterprise was not very successful later on and turned into a newspaper that frequently changed hands.
ISTANBUL PRESS DURING 1950-1980
These thirty years will be analyzed in three sections: DP period during 1950-1960, the period of 1960-1971 and the period of 1971-1980. Although early years of the DP period were relatively the easiest years for the press, 1954-1960 was rough particularly for the opponent press. 1960-1971 covers the troublesome years following the May 27 military coup and the early period of Süleyman Demirel’s government. This period ends by the military intervention on March 12, 1971. On the other hand, 1971-1980 is the period when Turkey either surrendered to terror or was left in its hands. The Istanbul press would lose some of its distinguished journalists, such as Abdi İpekçi, as a victim of terror during those years and the period would end with the September 12, 1980 military coup.
1950-1960 Democrat Party Period
It is necessary to analyse this period within three separate periods that bear different characteristics.
This was the period when DP had the best relations with the press. The DP gained a great supremacy when it received 52.7% of the votes within the TBMM following the May 14, 1950 elections, which were held in accordance with the majority system. There were several conditions that enabled the Istanbul press, which consisted of the great majority of the Turkish press circle, to experience this positive period that can be described as a honeymoon era with the government. There was the increase in agricultural goods across the world because of the Korean War, climate conditions that enabled convenient harvesting and relevant economic relief, Turkey’s membership to NATO, which it longed for, and enhanced relationships with the USA and the West. Finally, there was the positive atmosphere that arose as a result of relief from the tyranny of the single-party rule that lasted for years. This relationship, which was symbolized with the “Press can even enter our bedrooms” words of a minister from DP lasted uninterruptedly until 1954.
1954-1957 was the period when relations began to be shaded. The relationship between DP, which won the election with the 57.6% of the votes by a landslide that has not been true for any party in Turkey up to that point, and CHP, whose votes declined from 39.4% to 35.4%, was seriously deteriorating. The fact that positive conditions supporting the economic environment disappeared, the USA’s financial assistance derived from the Marshall Plan ended and DP Government could not fulfil the conditions set by the IMF and World Bank, brought together a deteriorating impact on the improvement achieved in terms of the press during those first four years. Issues such as the tension that rose from the Greece and Cyprus events, September 6-7, 1955 incidents and the fact that numerous MPs, some of whom had been founding members of the party, resigned from DP and established Hürriyet Partisi (Freedom Party) were a source of the Istanbul press’ criticism against the government and consequently government-press relations rapidly deteriorated. While all the Istanbul press newspapers, except Akşam and Vakit, which had little influence and Dünya (World), which had been recently published, had expressed at least sympathy for DP during 1950-1954, by the end of this period the majority of the Istanbul press did not even show this sympathy. On the other hand, the government’s attitude towards the press changed as well. The amendment of penal codes, problems regarding the government’s authority on newspaper documents and official advertisements at that time, the arrests of journalists and even Hüseyin Cahit Yalçın’s imprisonment, who was over 80, were obvious proof of this deterioration.
The relationships deteriorated even more during this period. CHP, which had been heartened after receiving 41% of the votes and increased its number of MPs within TBMM from the forties to one hundred seventies, addressed an uncompromising and destructive opposition against DP, which went below 50% for the first time and received 47.9% of the votes. CHP was reinforced by the troubles experienced because of the shortage of foreign exchange and the currency devaluation that exceeded 300%- an elevation of US Dollar value from 2.80 TL to 9.08 TL against the Turkish Lira. As a response to this, DP preferred to reinforce its proponents by establishing the Vatan Cephesi (Homeland Front) organization; however, this atmosphere resulted in two segments that hated each other across the country. A platform of compromise was so unreachable that it was said supporters of DP and CHP even separated their mosques in villages and small towns. The majority of the Istanbul press, under these circumstances, preferred to stand next to the opposition; as a result of this preference, there were press trials and many members of the press were arrested. Amendments were enacted within the Press Law and this undesirable, chaotic atmosphere paved the way for the May 27, 1960 military coup.
We can identify the following facts when we examine the Istanbul press through this three separate periods:
Hürriyet, Vatan-Cumhuriyet, Yeni Sabah, Yeni İstanbul, Akşam, Tercüman (Interpreter), Son Posta, Milliyet, Dünya (World), Son Saat, Vakit, İstanbul Ekspres (Istanbul Express) and Hergün were published in Istanbul each day during the 1950s.
Out of these publications, Sedat Semavi’s Hürriyet drew attention as an influential publishing media. This newspaper increased its initial circulation from 30,000 to about 150,000 in 1953 and this figure pushed 300,000 at a daily increase by the end of this period. These were unprecedented figures throughout the history of the Turkish press. In addition to the factors we previously cited, the novel series by particularly Refik Halit Karay, striking news and increase in sports news were effective in this circulation rise. Hürriyet was the newspaper of innovations; for example, Yahya Kemal Beyatlı’s poems that had passed around orally but had not been published anywhere were published in this newspaper. As its readers increased, Hürriyet’s influence also increased. For example, Sedat Simavi introduced the Cyprus issue to Turkey. Although the Foreign Affairs Minister at the time, Fuat Köprülü, claimed that, “We do not have an issue such as Cyprus,” Sedat Simavi persistently studied his subject and this found a response in public opinion. Meanwhile, Köprülü had already sued against Sedat Simavi but he was acquitted. Sedat Simavi bequeathed a good example of contemporary and popular journalism to his sons, Erol and Haldun Semavi, when he passed away on December 11, 1953. Sedat Simavi’s death did not have a large impact on Hürriyet and the newspaper continued its successful advance. We can state that Hürriyet was relatively more moderate against the DP Government during 1954-1960. Although renowned Commander of Martial Law, Nurettin Aknoz, prohibited publishing of the newspaper for 15 days when it violated one of his orders following the September 6-7 incidents, we do not really encounter a name from Hürriyet among the 1957-1960 arrests of journalists.
The newspaper that most significantly improved during this period was Milliyet. This newspaper, particularly when it was managed by Abdi İpekçi after 1954, experienced a great breakthrough by improving its sports section –similar to Hürriyet– and designating the last page for sports, by publishing comics like Abdülcanbaz comics stripes and by overall good journalism. The newspaper’s opponent attitude was evident by the replacement of Peyami Safa with Çetin Altan. The newspaper’s owner’s death, Ali Naci Karacan, in 1955, also did not have an impact on the newspaper.
Ahmet Emin Yalman’s Vatan is the newspaper that most intensely supported DP during 1950-1954. The fact that the DP Government strongly backed him up after he had experienced an assassination attempt in Malatya on November 22, 1952 consolidated these relationships. As an example of this, while Cumhuriyet, owned by DP MP Nadir Nadi, was criticizing amendments of Press Law enacted before 1954 elections, Yalman stated, “It is not possible to draw a split line between the hysterical attacks of opposition parties and destructive works of communists hiding behind them. The amendments of penal codes have been carried out by consulting certain newspaper editors-in-chief.”
Nevertheless, this situation changed after 1955; Yalman became one of the most critical opponents of DP and was even arrested and imprisoned. Meanwhile Vatan faced financial difficulties, turned into a newspaper of more than eighty partners after a capital increase and thus paved the way to the newspaper’s end because of management problems.
On the other hand, Cumhuriyet pursued a moderate publishing policy in the first five years of DP rule, despite criticizing some issues. Its editor-in-chief, Nadir Nadi, became an independent member of parliament in 1950 and 1954 out of the DP lists. The newspaper retained its old custom; that’s, it did not pursue popular and contemporary journalism like Hürriyet, Milliyet and Yeni Sabah. It pioneered the opposition against DP after 1957 and was shut down several times.
Akşam was one of the exceptionally opponent newspapers of the 1950-1954 period. Kazım Şinasi, who became the single manager of the newspaper when his partner Necmettin Sadak died in 1953, could not advance this old newspaper and it was sold to ship-owner Malik Yolaç in 1957. Yolaç, being a good businessman, invigorated the newspaper and the impact of this was largely felt particularly after 1960.
Habip Edip Törehan’s, who had a conservative disposition, Yeni İstanbul (New Istanbul), was a media source that aimed at addressing to a serious and elite readers in accordance with its owner’s desire. It is the first newspaper within Turkish journalism that had a separate economy page. The newspaper, however, began to lose its influence after 1952 when the two big guns, Falih Rıfkı Atay and Bedii Faik, established their own newspaper. This decline lasted until 1964 when Törehan passed away. At this time, the newspaper would change hands and would return to Babıali.
Yeni Sabah was another newspaper that achieved a rapid development in this period. It was the only newspaper that got closer to Hürriyet in terms of circulation. The newspapers reputation as a popular newspaper, and its novel series by Esat Mahmut Karakurt that gained credit from its readers, can account for this success. Safa Kılıçlıoğlu, the boss of the newspaper, had the choice to become a proponent or opponent of DP in accordance with the course of his relationships and was able to send a telegram to İnönü and say, “My facilities are at your disposal my Pasha.” After a short time, he could severely criticize him . Additionally, Yeni Sabah got into very harsh polemics with Vatan and Dünya newspapers during this period.
The founders of Dünya, which was established in 1952 and assumed the role of CHP’s Istanbul representative, were eight businessmen from CHP and Falih Rıfkı Atay. After a while, the management was handed over to Atay and Bedii Faik. The newspaper gained credit by opponent readers thanks to particularly Bedii Faik’s opposition to DP and his effective and severe criticisms. Bedii Faik was imprisoned several times and his newspaper was shut down.
One of the new newspapers of this period was Tercüman (Interpreter) published in 1950. Experienced journalist Cihat Baban in addition to several businessmen founded it. Baban, who was an MP of DP during 1946-1950 and 1954, was obliged to leave Tercüman which was a DP proponent until 1954, when he left DP and joined the Hürriyet Party. The circulation of the newspaper reached 160,000 once with the impact of a religious series in addition to preferring popular journalism. Tercüman became a DP proponent through the influence of Peyami Safa who left Milliyet; however, it fired Peyami Safa and became one of the sharpest DP opponent newspapers as a result of the May 27 military coup. This was not a change based on principles but was derived from the influence of the bosses who purchased the newspaper.
İstanbul Ekspres, established by Mithat Perin in 1951, was another new newspaper. It was an evening newspaper publishing sizeable photographs and sensational large headlines and it was the apparent driving force of the September 6-7 events. It achieved a circulation of 300,000 on that day but was shut down by martial law order following those incidents.
Since the owner and editor-in-chief of Son Posta newspaper was a DP MP, its publishing survived as one of the government proponents but with a declining influence throughout this period and was shut down after the May 27 military coup.
Similarly, DP MP Mehmet Faruk Gürtunca’s Hergün appeared within the press as a newspaper supporting DP but addressing middle and lower classes with a small circulation just like Son Saat. Vakit newspaper was also shut down following Hakkı Tarık Us’s death in 1956.
The years of this period were troublesome and tragic because of the impact of the military coup. Milli Birlik Committee (National Unity Committee), which overtook the government, expelled 147 professors from the university while trying former government officials under unfair conditions at Yassıada; 14 members were exiled abroad because of an internal disagreement, the constituent assembly prepared a new constitution and it was adopted by referendum and parties addressing the proponents of former DP were established. Meanwhile, Adnan Menderes and his two ministers were executed as a result of the Yassıada trials. Several other groups took action within the army. Parties could not win the elections conducted under these circumstances. CHP received fewer votes than in the 1957 election. Adalet Partisi (Justice Party), one of the parties addressing the DP audience, received almost equal votes to CHP. The 1961-1964 period lasted through coalition governments under the presidency of İnönü and later on governments formed by parties other than CHP under the presidency of Suat Hayri Ürgüplü. Meanwhile, Colonel Talat Aydemir attempted two military coups.
The AP (Justice Party) under the presidency of Süleyman Demirel won the 1965 elections receiving almost 53% of the votes and thus, AP governed the country. The most important item on the agenda was the pardons granted for the Yassıada convicts. AP also won the 1969 election although turmoil arose because of the vibrations of the 1968 student protests across the world on Turkey and a new party that was established by almost fifty MPs who left AP. Accordingly, the army intervened, this time through the chain of command, on March 12, 1971. Demirel was forced to resign and a government was assigned under Nihat Erim’s presidency.
The Istanbul press was actively involved throughout these developments that we summarized. It is not possible to say that the press offered a good account of themselves during the Yassıada trials, which they had reflected unilaterally and non-objectively. The following would be a striking example: It was claimed that Celal Bayar had a deposit of 103,000,000 TL at İş Bank; although it was obviously a wrongful claim, a very famous author of Milliyet newspaper was able to assert, “I could not move my hand from my wallet, I feared that Celal Bayar would also steal my wallet.” Writing of his impressions of Yassıada.
When we examine the Istanbul press in terms of the newspapers of this period, we see Cumhuriyet at the forefront among the newspapers opposing the AP. Once, a disagreement arose between editor-in-chief Nadir Nadi and the remaining partners and years-long chief-clerk Cevat Fehmi Başkut and Nadir Nadi left the newspaper. Nadir Nadi returned as the head of the newspaper after a 20 months-long separation. Meanwhile, İlhan Selçuk, who became one of the most important actors regarding the history of Cumhuriyet newspaper, joined the Cumhuriyet staff on April 8, 1962. The circulation of the newspaper increased to 160,000.
On the other hand, Akşam newspaper underwent a significant innovation when it began being published for the first time out of Istanbul -in Ankara and İzmir- it was also published in Europe for the first time. Although Malik Yolaç, the owner of the newspaper, was in cooperation with right-wing parties, Akşam turned out to be a left-wing newspaper due to the influence of authors, such as Çetin Altan and İlhami Soysal, who were on its staff. Meanwhile, its circulation reached 200,000 thanks to its “a prize for each reader” campaign and thus it initiated the lottery practice, which would become a trouble for the press in the following years. Nevertheless, it could not resolve its financial problems due to a lack of commercials and was shut down in 1982 after losing power and changing hands several times.
The early days of the military coup were difficult for Hürriyet; protesters demonstrated in front of the newspaper since it had not properly opposed DP. And the newspaper proposed construction of a “Revolution Martyrs” monument to eliminate this impression! Still, it is necessary to express that Hürriyet was relatively objective during the Yassıada trials. The newspaper continued to increase its number of readers and its circulation reached almost 1,000,000 by the end of this period. Otherwise, Milliyet continued to increase its influence under İpekçi’s management and its circulation went beyond 300,000. Tercüman was bought by businessman Kemal Ilıcak after a staggering period and rapidly developed as the strongest proponent of the government by including authors who had been proponents of DP within its staff through a new initiative.
Dünya newspaper was completely appropriated by Bedii Faik, and Falih Rıfkı Atay worked only as an editor-in-chief in the newspaper. Bedii Faik and Atay, who supported CHP until 1965 and who were told to be cooperative with the junta members of Talat Aydemir, pursued an opposing policy against CHP and became passionate defenders of Demirel governments when Bülent Ecevit became general secretary of CHP and announced the programme of the left of center.
Two important members of the Istanbul press; namely, Vatan and Yeni Sabah, experienced very tough days during the early years of this period. Vatan split ways with year-long journalist Ahmet Emin Yalman due to problems that arose because of the multi-partner structure. Although he published a new newspaper titled Hür Vatan (Free Land), Yalman was unsuccessful. Naim Tirali managed the new Vatan and moved the newspaper to Ankara but also did not succeed. Furthermore, Safa Kılıçlıoğlu, the owner of Yeni Sabah, shut down his newspaper operations on June 30, 1964 after the law enacted by Milli Birlik Committee, which claimed to offer great opportunities for newspapers, claiming “It is not possible to carry out journalism in Turkey after this kind of laws.” He began encyclopaedia publishing. Another old newspaper, Yeni İstanbul, was bought by Gökhan Evliyaoğlu, a member of parliament from AP, following the death of it’s owner Habip Edip Törehan. It was later sold to businessman Kemal Uzan who became renowned for his scandals in the following days. Although Uzan transferred many famous journalists to his newspaper in 1968, he was unsuccessful.
Some new newspapers within the Istanbul press appeared during this period. Firstly, the general secretary of CHP, Kasım Gülek, published Tanin in 1961. This newspaper was known for the arrests of its authors, Aziz Nesin and İhsan Ada, during the Milli Birlik period. Gülek announced that he had fired Aziz Nesin following the arrest. This incident led to a decline in the circulation of the newspaper, which was already low, and consequently, the newspaper was shut down in four months.
Havadis (News) newspaper, where Peyami Safa was the editor-in-chief, was of the most significant development during this period when the entire press was against DP. This newspaper, which defended former DP members, was shut down on July 1960. Its function continued by buying Son Havadis (Last News), which was published in Ankara. Mümtaz Faik Fenik, editor-in-chief of Zafer (Victory) newspaper, which was the oldest publishing media in Ankara, took over the editor-in-chief position following Peyami Safa’s death on June 15, 1961. This newspaper became the publishing media of AP together with Tercüman in Istanbul.
Haldun Simavi began to publish Günaydın (Good Morning) newspaper on November 26, 1968, handing over Hürriyet to his brother, Erol Simavi. He presented sensational journalism through advanced printing techniques. For Simavi, the interesting news was more important than the accurate news.. The news was to be short and striking in lieu of the columnists’ wishes. The newspaper achieved this function under Necati Zincirkıran’s management and reached a circulation of 350,000 which no one had expected. Simavi reinforced this success with Son (Last) and Tan (Dawn) newspapers and Gırgır (Jocular) magazine that he published in addition to Günaydın. The newspaper, which was politically impartial, became one of the most active opponents of AP due to the personal issues between Simavi and Demirel.
The governments of Nihat Erim, Ferit Melen and Naim Talu suggested by the March 12 military coup ruled during the early years of this period. There was the struggle around the presidential election and parties could not reach a majority in the 1973 elections. First the CHP-MSP (National Salvation Party) ruled the country, and then the Nationalist Front coalition. The 1977 election did not grant anybody single-party ruling either; again, the country was ruled by the Nationalist Front coalition, CHP-Independents coalition and at the end the AP coalition supported by external powers and the country arrived September 12.
The country struggled with two important problems during the period leading way to the military coup: the first was the terror which gradually elevated and daily increased its violence and polarization within the community and the second was the high and chronic inflation.
The state of affairs of the Istanbul press was miserable during these years. While the number of readers rapidly increased as the distribution across the country increased with technological developments, the military regime, a result of the March 12 military coup, established the greatest suppression of Republican history as a whole. Journalists from all segments were exposed to the maltreatment of long imprisonments and became unable to continue journalism. A typical example of this is Çetin Altan who could only write with a pseudonym or without a signature at newspapers after being released from the prison where he was detained for years.
When we analyse the newspapers, we observe that Hürriyet, Günaydın, Tercüman and Milliyet were the first four newspapers with the highest circulation figures. Particularly Hürriyet pioneered some issues and was organized across the country. It established new printing houses in Ankara, İzmir, Adana, Erzurum and Germany and created facilities to solve distribution problem. Later on the remaining newspapers also followed Hürriyet.
Year-long newspaper Cumhuriyet was taken over by the partners apart from Nadir Nadi when a disagreement arose between them as a result of the imprisonment of İlhan Selçuk who had already became a symbol following the March 12 events. However, as a result of the readers’ strong negative reaction, the former administration was restored. The newspaper assumed the role of the standard-bearer of the left-wing thanks to the contribution of Uğur Mumcu, in addition to İlhan Selçuk, who joined the newspaper in 1975.
Milliyet newspaper assumed an attitude that represented moderacy and rationality although it was inclined towards CHP under the management of Abdi İpekçi and gained a significant prestige before readers. It became one the first four newspapers in the country. However, experienced and public-spirited journalist Abdi İpekçi became the victim of terror on February 1, 1979 when he was only fifty years old. Although this blow did not affect the newspaper, it affected its owner Ercüment Karacan. The experienced was the development that can be considered as the beginning of the hegemony of businessmen and conglomerates over the press; at the end of 1979, Karacan lost his interest in the newspaper and Aydın Doğan became a partner of Milliyet.
Akşam, Dünya, Son Havadis, Hergün and Yeni İstanbul survived as marginal newspapers throughout this period and proceeded towards their predestined end. On the other hand, Vatan newspaper continued to be published in Ankara for a while but was shut down in 1978.
We observe that two new newspaper joined the Istanbul press between 1971-1980: Türkiye (Turkey) established on March 29, 1972 and owned by Enver Ören and Milli Gazete (National Newspaper) established on January 12, 1973 and served as the publishing media of Milli Selamet Partisi (National Salvation Party). Tan newspaper, which was the more popular and the more apolitical supplement of Günaydın newspaper and Bulvar (Boulevard) as a similar supplement of Tercüman newspaper, were also published at the beginning of 1980s.
ISTANBUL PRESS FROM 1980 TO THE PRESENT DAY
Turkey has witnessed significant developments since the 1980s to the present day. There was military government during 1980-1983. The single-party government of the Anavatan Partisi (Motherland Party) governed the country under the presidency of Turgut Özal during 1983-1991. Although this government achieved some economic successes, which could be considered as revolutionary, it failed to decrease the inflation, which was considerably high. 1991-2002 was the period of coalition governments; however, the most important problem of this period was the terror incidents in Eastern Anatolia. The army indirectly intervened again on February 28, 1997. Turkey experienced a huge financial crisis in 2001 and numerous banks were shut down. Kemal Derviş, who used to be the deputy president of IMF, was appointed as the State Minister for economy and very strict and painful measurements were taken. Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party) got adequate number of MPs to form a single-party government and maintained this position by winning the 2007 and 2011 elections up to day (2014).
The press experienced a boom of arrests and newspaper shutdowns in the early days of 1980 military coup. For example, Cumhuriyet and Milli Gazete were shut down four times; Hürriyet, Tercüman and Günaydın were each twice shut down.
However, the most important incidents of this period were that authors and journalists such as Muammer Aksoy (1984), Bahriye Üçok (1990), Çetin Emeç (1990), Uğur Mumcu (1993) and Ahmet Taner Kışlalı (1999) became victims of the still unsolved murders following the turmoil in the country.
The most significant change within the Istanbul press was the transition from the traditional newspaper owner/editor-in-chief school to conglomerate journalism. It is necessary to mention certain developments about the newspapers to comprehend this phase.
Certainly the most significant development was the Sabah newspaper published by Dinç Bilgin, who was the owner of İzmir’s most renowned local newspaper Yeni Asır (New Century), on April 22, 1985 in Istanbul. This newspaper, similar to Haldun Simavi’s Günaydın, immediately earned circulation thanks to both its printing technics and innovative journalism and became one of the most important newspapers in Istanbul. However, it failed to achieve a similar success for the more qualified newspapers, Yeni Yüzyıl (New Century) and Söz (Promise), that were published later on.
Another sensational development was the Güneş (Sun) newspaper published by businessmen Ömer Çavuşoğlu and Ahmet Kozanoğlu and managed by Güneri Cıvaoğlu. Asil Nadir bought the newspaper, which had been sold to businessman Mehmet Ali Yılmaz in 1983; however, it was shut down on April 1, 1992 due to unfavourable developments although it reached a very high circulation for a while.
Zaman newspaper, which began publication in 1986 became a newspaper with a gradually increasing circulation thanks to its special subscription practice. On the other hand, the Uzan family, who owned Star TV, the first private Turkish television station, published a newspaper with the same name, which achieved a circulation of 300,000.
Haldun Simavi gave the first example of the transition from newspaper ownership by traditional journalists to businessmen by selling his Günaydın and Tan newspapers to Asil Nadir, a successful businessman of the time. This promising newspaper gradually lost circulation and credit following the sale and was shut down in 1998.
Aydın Doğan, who had bought Milliyet, also bought Hürriyet in 1994. The owner of the newspaper, Erol Simavi, sold his newspaper after losing interest in his job at the age of fifty-five. His interest declined when the newspaper lost money because of the special offer frenzy of the newspapers, which will be explained below.
Tercüman newspaper, which was published since the 1950s, was closed on April 1993 following the death of its owner Kemal Ilıcak because of its poor financial condition despite its circulation of 300,000. The newspapers published afterwards under the same name were also not successful. The Bulvar newspaper published by the same group faced the same end in 1988.
Akşam was shut down in 1982 and was re-published by the Çukurova group. Yeni İstanbul and Hergün newspapers were shut down at the beginning of the 1980s. Dünya newspaper was sold to Hürriyet first and has continued publication as an economy newspaper under the management of Nezih Demirkent since 1981. On the other hand, year-long newspaper Cumhuriyet experienced management problems due to internal conflicts following the death of its editor-in-chief Nadir Nadi in 1991 and its circulation declined to 60,000.
One of the two major developments seen during this period is that the newspapers began to leave Babıali. There are no longer any newspapers today on and around this street, which has an important place within Turkish journalism history. The second development was the destructive special offer fight, which caused the replacement of bosses of the newspapers. Although this fight increased the circulations beyond a million, the additional costs caused problems for the newspapers. In addition to gifts such as automobiles and houses, even toothpaste and washing agents were distributed throughout this fight.
The destruction of 2011 economic crisis also struck the newspapers. Although Aydın Doğan’s group was not wounded by this destruction, Dinç Bilgin’s, who bought Etibank, Sabah was transferred to TMSF (The Savings Deposit Insurance Fund) due to its debts. Sabah was sold to Ciner first, and Turkuvaz group later. Some of its staff began to publish Vatan newspaper.
All of these developments resulted in the transition to conglomerate controlled press; now the word of press left its place to media. Media includes not only newspapers, but also television channels and magazines. Now the traditional journalism of Babıali was a fine memory of the past. Unfortunately, this development brought together some handicaps as well. The most important handicaps are the disappearance of small and medium size publishing in favor of monopoly media, cultural degradation caused by the importance attached to the magazine and sensational news, and the influence on newspaper policy of the relationships between owners and the government and other institutions because they are businessmen.
Currently, the Istanbul press can be listed in accordance with the relevant conglomerates as follows:
Demirören Group: Hürriyet, Posta (Post), Milliyet and Vatan
Turkuvaz Group: Sabah and Takvim (Calendar)
Ciner Group: Habertürk (Turkish News)
It is also necessary to mention Zaman, Yeni Şafak (New Dawn), Sözcü (Spokesman) and Türkiye. Meanwhile Bugün (Today), Star (Star), Akşam, Güneş, Yeni Akit (New Agreement), Millî Gazete, Yeni Asya (New Asia), Taraf (Side), Aydınlık (Brightness), Cumhuriyet, Yurt (Homeland), Sol Gazete (Left Newspaper), Birgün (One Day), Evrensel (Universal), Yeni Mesaj (New Message), Ortadoğu (Middle East), Hürses (Free Voice) and Milat (Milestone) newspapers have also taken their places within the Istanbul press through their relatively low circulation.
Another interesting development of post-1980 period is the publishing of daily sports newspapers. Fotomaç (Photo-match) and Fanatik (Fanatic) have been the longest-running newspapers of this regard.
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1 The street of the central office of the Ottoman State where the offices of newspapers were located.