In today’s Obs…

In today’s Observer, Peter Preston describes Yavuz Baydar as a; “good and respected Turkish columnist”. He goes on to quote Baydar’s words in Today’s Zaman ; “There are 16 journalists in jail in Great Britain, under arrest pending trial in the so-called hacking scandal.  What?  There are, of course, none at all.  Perhaps it’s natural for a journalist operating in Turkey to make the assumption that journalists arrested by the police would languish in jail until tried; natural, but hardly professional to fail to factcheck the central detail underpinning one’s argument.  Yet considering that Baydar wants to contextualise Turkey’s jailing of journalists, i.e. to argue that it’s pretty much as bad in the UK as it is in Turkey, his failure to check his central non-fact is all the more striking.   What’s much worse, though, is Preston’s forgiving of the insidious non-error as ‘an honest mistake’  and his conclusion that if even Turkish journalists are worried about the UK then we should  be careful how we treat those caught up in the hacking business.  Peter, if you go to Turkey you’ll find that there really are many journalists in jail for opposing the establishment (not simply always the Government); notably but not exclusively Kurds. And you’ll find that some Istanbul-based journalists are very keen to ‘contextualise’ the problem, too. You may wish to check out a friends bona fides before giving him the benefit of the doubt.

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