140journos is a Turkish citizen journalism group which has been covering Turkish News since 2012. Co-founder Engin Onder, describes the event which triggered the birth of 140journos (140 stands for the number of characters in a tweet), in this Nieman report. >‘In December of 2011, Turkish military jets bombed the village of Uludere, about five miles from the border with Iraq, killing 34. Was the attack a tragic mistake or a planned strike on suspected Kurdish separatists? Were the casualties terrorists, smugglers, or innocent citizens? It was impossible for anyone in Turkey to find out because the media did not report the deaths’.
Staffed entirely by non-professional journalists, 140journos has a become the voice of a ‘counter-media’ movement using social media to operate outside of the stranglehold that the Turkish government has over the mainstream media. Turkey has been described by the Committee to Protect Journalists as ‘the world’s worst jailer of journalists’, but within that environment 140journos cover the news that the Turkish government would prefer to keep quiet. Twitter has become a powerful political tool in Turkey and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made (so far unsuccessful) attempts to ban the network which has been used to expose corruption and authoritarian behaviour at the highest level.
Sometimes the non-professional status of Turkey’s citizen journalists can be helpful; for example allowing access where professional journalists have been banned from court trials. Deirdre Dlugoleski at the Columbia Journalism Review describes how 140journos and the young artists and filmmakers who attach themselves to the shared ideology attempt to fill in the unreported spaces of emerging news in Turkey >‘Although largely liberal, these young, media-savvy, university-educated entrepreneurs don’t prioritize any particular ideology, except one: freedom of expression. For the larger public, this means a real chance at accessing information that doesn’t uniformly present the ruling Justice and Development Party, the AKP, in a positive light—a trend that, if spread widely enough, could mar the party’s and prime minister’s popularity’.