Experts criticize Istanbul municipality's Rome trip for journalists: a challenge to journalistic objectivity

Experts criticize Istanbul municipality's Rome trip for journalists: a challenge to journalistic objectivity

May 24, 2024- Academics and experts  from Üsküdar University and DİSK Basın-İş have raised concerns about the objectivity of journalists after 37 reporters traveled to Rome on the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's (İBB) budget. This trip was organized by İBB President Ekrem İmamoğlu for the signing ceremony of the 2027 European Olympic Games, held on May 18.

Journalist İrfan Değirmenci criticized the trip on social media with a post titled "La Dolce Vita/The Sweet Life." Similarly, journalist Barış Terkoğlu emphasized the need for accountability in public spending, saying, "Whoever spends public money should be held accountable." However, CHP leader Özgür Özel defended the trip, stating that it was significant for Istanbul and that the budget was not used for personal purposes.

Prof. Dr. Süleyman İrvan, head of the Journalism Department at Üsküdar University, criticized the participation of journalists in the trip. Speaking to MLSA, he stated, "The problem is that journalists are attending this trip with municipal resources." He argued that such trips, funded by the municipality, could compromise journalists' objectivity. "A journalist might hesitate to report critically on an issue if their expenses are covered by others, which casts doubt on their impartiality," he added.

Despite journalists claiming they remained objective and asked any questions freely, Irvan stressed that the mere suspicion of compromised objectivity is significant. "The doubt itself is important because by participating in a trip funded by others, journalists inevitably compromise their objectivity."

Izel Sezer, a board member of DİSK Basın-İş, shared similar concerns. He argued that while it's normal for journalists to participate in such trips, their expenses should be covered by their own organizations, not the event's sponsors. "Journalists join trips if they have news value, but just as their organizations cover expenses for other news events, they should do so here too."

Sezer referenced the Turkish Journalists' Association's Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities, which states, "A journalist cannot derive any material or moral benefit in exchange for the publication or non-publication of information or news; they must avoid conflicts of interest." He questioned the objectivity of journalists whose expenses were covered by İBB, asking, "Can journalists be critical of İBB or the event if their expenses are covered by İBB?"

He also criticized İmamoğlu's advisor, Murat Ongun, who claimed, "We did not invite journalists for our or our party's propaganda, but to share in Turkey and Istanbul's success." Sezer argued, "Yes, the Rome trip relates to Istanbul, but it is also a promotional activity. The biggest indicator of this is that only a few of the 37 journalists taken to cover a sports-related event are sports reporters."


Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) haber alma hakkı, ifade özgürlüğü ve basın özgürlüğü alanlarında faaliyet yürüten bir sivil toplum kuruluşudur. Derneğimiz başta gazeteciler olmak üzere mesleki faaliyetleri sebebiyle yargılanan kişilere hukuki destek vermektedir.