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Gezi Park Protests as a Litmus Test for Mainstream Western Media

This article focuses on the coverage of Gezi Park protests in the mainstream western media. It analyzes the details of the incidents and argues that the Gezi Park protests became a negative turning point in the already worsening quality of foreign media coverage of Turkey and AK Party. It argues that the basic codes of media ethics have been frequently violated, while Erdoğan-phobia became an almost unquestionable rule for the mainstream western media in the post-Gezi era.

Gezi Park Protests as a Litmus Test for Mainstream Western
A demonstrator wears a Guy Fawkes mask as protestors clash with Turkish riot policemen on May 31, 2013, during a protest against the demolition of the Taksim Gezi Park, in Taksim Square, in Istanbul. AFP PHOTO / BÜLENT KILIÇ

Despite the new communicative opportunities presented by social media, the mainstream media remains the key site of discourses with significant power over narratives that represent and shape western societies. Nick Couldry describes ‘media power’ as “the concentration in media institutions of the symbolic power of “constructing reality” (both factual representations and credible fictions).”1 In this framework, the mainstream media has an important role in influencing identity and policy narratives that are dominant amongst both the public and the elite. The term ‘mainstream’ here roughly denotes the most widely circulated print media as well as the most heavily trafficked online media and the most watched/listened broadcast networks. 

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