Television is the main news source in Turkey, followed by online news, according to a new report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
The report also finds that, for the first time, the smartphone has overtaken the computer for accessing news, the rise in online news use has stalled after two years of growth, and the most popular online news sites are those owned by traditional media brands, using content repackaged from print, television or news agencies.
The Turkey Supplementary Report – which is based on the 2018 Digital News Report, a global study of how 74,000 people in 37 countries access news – reveals that while some trends in Turkey are similar to those elsewhere, there are a number of differences in behaviour that could be linked to Turkey’s polarised political environment.
More people in Turkey reported concern that openly expressing their political views online could get them into trouble with authorities than in any other country surveyed. Turkish respondents also reported the highest level o exposure to ‘stories that are completely made up for political or commercial reasons’.
The report, by Dr Servet Yanatma, found that closed messaging apps have taken over from Facebook for news. This may be linked to fears about government surveillance on social networks.
Sources of news
• More people (48%) cite television as their main news source. Online news, including social media, is the second most cited main news source (39%)
• Radio (7%) and printed media (6%) are rarely cited as main news sources
• The number of those citing online news, including social media, as their main news source has plateaued this year, after two years of growth
• The share of digital-born news outlets (websites/apps with no links to established news outlets) has not increased, remaining at 7%
• Online news, including social media, is the primary source for left-wing respondents (45%). TV is the primary source for those on the right (59%).
• The share of smartphones as the main device used to access news has risen significantly – from 28% to 43% in three years
• The younger the respondents the more they use smartphones to access news. 53% of 18– 24-year-olds use the smartphone as their main device, compared to 31% of over-55s.
Turkeys top media brands
• Television channels dominate the traditional top brands. FOX TV is still the most preferred source – both in weekly usage and as the main source, followed by CNN Türk, NTV, and TRT
• Only two newspapers (Hürriyet and Sözcü) are listed in the top ten traditional brands.
• CNN Türk, Hürriyet, Mynet, NTV, and Sözcü are the most popular online news brands.
Trust in news
• The figures for overall trust (38%) and distrust (40%) in Turkish news media are remarkably similar. This is an indicator of Turkey’s polarised society and news media
• Distrust in news is two percentage points higher than trust this year
• Trust is low for social media and searches at 33% and 38% respectively
• Political leaning plays a significant role in trust in the news. Overall trust in news is higher on the right (51%) than the left (29%)
• Younger respondents have the lowest level of trust in news, with just 28% in the 18–24 age group, whereas it is 43% for over 55s
• Some brands are trusted much more than others but the report also underlines how strongly trust can be influenced by pre-existing views about politics
• 49% of respondents stated they have come across ‘stories that are completely made up for political or commercial reasons’. The average across all 37 countries in the Digital News Report is 26%.
• Left-wing respondents reported more exposure to completely made-up news at 59%, the figure is also very high for respondents in the centre and the right at 49% and 48% respectively.
Social media messaging
• The decline in the use of Facebook for news continued, as it fell by 18 percentage points in the past three years. The rise of closed messaging services like WhatsApp also continued, up 5 percentage points this year, making a 13 percentage point increase over the past two years.
• Turkey is at the top of all 37 countries for the proportion (65%) stating concern that openly expressing their political views online could get them into trouble with the authorities.
The full report is available to download here.
Methodology: The study is based on analysis of survey data collected as part of the 2018 Reuters Institute Digital News Report. The Digital News Report is the world’s largest ongoing survey of news consumption, covering 37 countries in 2018, of which Turkey was just one. Survey work in Turkey was done with the support of Google and the Digital News Initiative.
This study is based on analysis of data collected as part of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2018. The original study was commissioned by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford (RISJ) to understand how news is being consumed in a range of countries, including Turkey.
The research was conducted by YouGov using an online questionnaire at the end of January/beginning of February 2018.
Turkey sample: While the samples are over-representative of the urban population in Turkey, the survey was carried out in all geographic regions of the country and not restricted just to a few major cities. The survey base is composed of 2019 respondents. (1007 male, and 1012 female
About the author: Dr Servet Yanatma was a Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford in the academic year of 2017–18. He was also a journalist fellow at the Reuters Institute in the academic year of 2015–16. During that fellowship, he wrote a research paper entitled ‘Media Capture and Advertising in Turkey: The Impact of the State on News’. In 2017 he prepared the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017 – Turkey Supplementary Report. Servet holds a BA and an MA in history from the Bogazici University in Istanbul. In 2015 he completed his PhD programme at Middle East Technical University with a thesis on ‘The International News Agencies in the Ottoman Empire, 1854–1908’
Notes for editors: This research was supported by Google as part of the Digital News Initiative.
Interview requests and other inquiries should be sent to the communications office at the RISJ: [email protected] ox.ac.uk / + 44 (0)1865 611098
About the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism: The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the core funder of the RISJ, based in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. The RISJ was launched in November 2006 and developed from the Reuters Fellowship Programme, established at Oxford 35 years ago. An international research centre in the comparative study of journalism, the RISJ aims to be global in its perspective and provides a leading forum for journalists from around the world to engage with scholars from a wide range of disciplines. See