Fall of the pound could be the final blow for Turkish newspapers

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Managing a publication printed in Turkey has never been easy, but the dramatic devaluation of reading it this year has added to the difficulties for the industry. Beyond the incurable problem of declining readership, a fight against censorship and a constant fear of seeing writers imprisoned, publications today are faced with the impossibility of affording paper.

Since 2005, the Turkish publishing industry has had to import the paper it uses. The country’s first paper company, SEKA, was privatized in 1998. Less than a decade later, it was closed on the grounds that it was cheaper to buy paper abroad than to get it. locally.

This is why the paper market is directly influenced by the exchange rate. All transactions are carried out in US dollars or euros, which makes the industry extremely sensitive to fluctuations in the exchange rate.

Last month, the Turkish lira lost 30% of its value. Not only did this weaken the purchasing power of publications, but it skyrocketed paper prices.

In less than a year, the price of paper used for book covers has almost doubled, high-quality pulp used in textbooks has increased by 130%, and plain paper for books has increased by almost 60%. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, paper is one of the three most expensive items this year.

Newspapers have already struggled for a variety of reasons, but the exponential rise in the price of paper is set to be the last nail in the coffin of many publications. Yilmaz Karaca, president of the Federation of Journalists of Turkey, certainly believes so. Karaca says the local press will suffer the most, estimating that 100 newspapers will have closed shop in 2021.

The Turkish Association of Journalists’ third quarter report estimated that over the past six years, newspapers have lost half of their readers. Additionally, newspapers and magazines recorded their lowest circulation figures in 2021 compared to any year in the past two decades.

While this is in line with the global audience shift from print to digital and declining advertising revenue, Turkey faces another problem: many news agencies have lost their credibility.

Gradually, Turkish newspapers are no longer considered reliable sources of information. More and more news companies have been sold to companies close to the government and have become their spokespersons.

It is sad to see the structural decline of an entire industry as it is slowly gutted. The few remaining publications with their integrity intact and undiminished journalistic values ​​are now being pushed to the brink of extinction.

When the sports magazine Socrates was launched in 2015, it became one of the few Turkish publications to expand internationally. But editor-in-chief Caner Eler is now worried. He recently said on Twitter that the magazine “has stockpiled piles of paper for publication. [the] magazine over the next six months. Who knows what will happen next?

The owner of the Kirmizi Kedi (Red Cat) publishing house, Haluk Hepkon, is adamant that the prices of books must go up, “not to make a profit but to avoid losing money”. Books currently selling for 20 to 30 lire are expected to increase to 80 lire. While publishers must do this to survive, it’s unclear whether readers will pay the supplement.

Publishers have so far refused to increase their prices because the cost of publishing books is unclear. As Elif Akkaya, president of the Turkish Publishers’ Cooperative, explains: “It’s not only that the cost of paper has doubled, the cost of printing has also doubled, the prices of items such as ink. and printers steadily increasing as well. There is speculation that these prices could triple in the new year. “

However, the most problematic expense is paper. Kenan Kocaturk, president of the Turkish Publishers Association, predicts that “finding paper to print may not be possible in the near future”. As a result, publishers use the paper they have with care and only books deemed to be the most important are currently in print.

The economic policy adopted by the ruling Justice and Development Party focuses on the production of cheap labor and production for export-oriented enterprises. It ignores the many industries that will suffer because they can no longer afford to import what they need.

The suffering of the publishing industry is also part of the government’s legacy of destruction and neglect of the nation’s cultural pillars.

For those who produce and print words, Turkey only promises a future full of anguish. How will the publishing industry support Turkish writers? How can the current climate ever bring forth and produce young writers? Will anyone ever feel motivated enough to study this profession, let alone pursue it?

A dark future awaits publications, where the reader will not be able to buy and the publisher will not be able to print. But it’s even darker for those who pursue the writing profession.

This article has been provided by Syndication office, who owns the copyright.


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