Unionization issues conceived by journalists in the post-1980s Turkish media scene

Selma Arslantaş (Ankara Üniversitesi, Turkey)

The 1980s were characterized by the proliferation of new information and communication technologies as well as the expansion of US-led economic policy following the economic depression of the 1970s. Deregulation, privatization and the withdrawal of the state from many areas due to the disintegration of the welfare state model were common all around the world. These significant changes affected the structure of the labour market, labour organization and the framework of employment relationships. As with any industry in the world, the organisation of the media has changed dramatically since the 1980s: the most important development being the alteration of media ownership patterns. In Turkey the traditional journalist-proprietors were replaced by major investors. The media became a tool of economic power and journalists accepted working under the resultant ideological pressure in the belief that they could not be successful unless they played the game according the new rules. It is under these conditions that the process of the de-unionization has taken place. This paper presents the preliminary results of a field study consisting of a survey of 300 journalists and in-depth interviews with 30 senior journalists. The study reveals that most journalists choose not to become members of unions for fear of losing their jobs. Factors such as the structure of the media, employment legislation and union organization are also important in understanding these journalists’ conception of unionization. Furthermore, the lack of class-consciousness among journalists has also influenced de-unionization in the media sector. Most journalists of today believe that they belong to an elite social class – like that of their proprietors – and they therefore come to represent their organization’s interests.

Timing - Friday - Panel Session D1
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