The death blow to Turkey’s media

Turkey, once seen as a role model for the Middle East, is now hitting the headlines around the world with its systematic government crackdown on the free press. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s relentless assaults on the independent media has blown up with a final deadly strike to Turkey’s largest newspaper, Zaman, and its sister organization, Cihan News Agency.

On March 4, 2016, the Turkish government forcefully took over Zaman Media Group and peaceful protesters in front of the Zaman headquarters were brutally attacked by Turkish police. Tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets were shot.

As Cihan News Agency has been the only independent monitor of Turkey’s elections for the last 10 years, the seizure left the country more vulnerable to election fraud.

This panel will focus on the recent government takeover of critical media outlets in Turkey and its possible outcomes for the region.


Ali H. Aslan, senior Washington correspondent of Turkey’s largest daily newspaper Zaman since 1997. He also writes a column for the same paper and its English language affiliate Today’s Zaman. Formerly employed by Zaman’s Istanbul headquarters in various capacities including deputy news editor, he covers international relations with a special focus on the U.S., Turkey and the Middle East. His work has also appeared occasionally in U.S. publications such as Foreign Policy and European Affairs. Born in Adana in 1967, Aslan holds a BA degree from Turkey’s Bogazici (Bosphorus) University in Istanbul.

Nina Ognianova, coordinator of CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia Program. A native of Bulgaria, Ognianova has carried out numerous fact-finding and advocacy missions across the region. Her commentaries on press freedom have appeared in The Guardian, the International Herald Tribune, the Huffington Post, and the EU Observer, among others. Ognianova is the lead author of CPJ’s special report “Turkey’s Press Freedom Crisis,” which examines the anti-press campaign under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. She holds a master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism-Columbia. Follow her on Twitter @Kremlinologist1

Nate Schenkkan, project director for Nations in Transit, Freedom House’s annual survey of democratic governance from Central Europe to Eurasia. He previously served as senior program officer for Freedom House’s Eurasia programs, covering Turkey and Central Asia. His reporting and analysis have been published in Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs Online, The Atlantic Online, Eurasianet, World Politics Review, and Russian Analytical Digest. He was the lead researcher and co-author of two Freedom House special reports on Turkey, The Struggle for Turkey’s Internet and Democracy in Crisis: Corruption, Media and Power in Turkey.

Moderator: Prof. Prue Clarke, director of the CUNY J-School’s International Reporting Program

WHEN: April 7, 2016; 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

219 W 40th St

New York, NY 10018

Room 308

Admission is free. Register here.