Gov't includes online media journalists in COVID-19 vaccine priority list upon protests

The government will include online media journalists in its list of priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination after it was widely criticized for only inoculating official press cardholders in the profession.

Duvar English

Journalists working for online media sites in Turkey have been excluded from the government's designated groups of priority for the COVID-19 vaccination process, although official press cardholders are being inoculated.

The implementation has been slammed by several online media journalists, who are not protected by press legislation and are denied official press cards offered to those working in mainstream media.

Upon protests, the “Haberciler Platform,” a network of journalists, editors and news cameramen, started to hold meetings with the Turkish Presidential Communications Directorate.

Mehmet Altunışık from the platform told TELE1 on April 27 that their efforts bore fruit and that as of May, the Health Ministry will start to vaccinate journalists working for independent media and online media platforms.

Altınışık said that internet journalists whose names have been notified by their organizations to the Health Ministry will be designated as a group of priority in the vaccination program, as has been the case for official press cardholders.

Digital media journalists in Turkey are not allowed to have press cards as per the current press law. They are classified as office workers, in other words not recognized as journalists by the government.

Also, recent regulations undertaken by the government have made it more difficult to obtain a press card. Large numbers of journalists critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have had their press cards revoked or their applications for renewal denied in recent years.

After the dissolution of the prime ministry, the issuing of press cards was transferred to the authority of the presidency in 2018. A commission established by the presidency responsible for issuing the cards is composed of journalists from a number of state-run and pro-government outlets and newspapers.