Turkey’s biggest selling paper has suffered a catastrophic 99 per cent fall in sales following its takeover as part of an increasingly authoritarian government’s moves to suppress the opposition.
Over the weekend police stormed the offices of Zaman and dismissed the editor and chief columnist with all reports now pre-vetted by officials prior to publication to ensure nothing is printed which ‘defames’ Turkey, ensuring a steady stream of sanctioned PR and puff pieces in lieu of hard hitting investigative journalism.
Naturally the readership has not been impressed with these changes with sales plunging from 650,000 to 6,000 a day as an unimpressed public drop the paper in their droves.
Explaining the changes to The Times, Zaman’s foreign editor Mustafa Edip Yilmaz, said: “It is like the paper died on Friday night and was resurrected in a different body on Saturday. Every day we produce editions and they are not sent to the printing presses. The editorial line, the stories, the pictures, the front page — sometimes they are changed partly, sometimes completely.”
The takeover comes just months after police seized two TV channels and two newspapers belonging to Koza-Ipek.
Turkey’s president Erdogan has pursued an increasingly hard line since being re-elected as he battles to suppress a corruption scandal that nearly brought down his government in 2013.