Counter-surveillance and alternative new media in Turkey
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CitationAtaman, B., Çoban, B. (2018). Counter-surveillance and alternative new media in Turkey. Information Communication and Society, 21(7), 1014-1029. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2018.1451908
This study, drawing on alternative media and networked social movements, explores the counter-surveillance practices and oppositional imaginaries of activist citizen journalists (ACJs) in Turkey to combat the surveillance strategies of the authoritarian Turkish government. After the failed coup attempt in July 2016, the ruling party has become more suspicious of dissent of any kind. However, the ACJs who use mobile communication and social media as channels for journalism and counter-surveillance continue their critical journalistic work in this context. Using ethnographic data collected from interviews with these media activists, this study focuses on oppositional imaginaries regarding the surveillance culture as well as counter-surveillance tactics, both offensive and defensive. To do so, we conducted 22 in-depth interviews with the representatives of alternative new media (ANM) initiatives and ACJs who were gathering, producing and disseminating news at the time of the study (between January and July 2017). Backed by the available literature on interdisciplinary approaches, data were gathered from the interviews, thematically coded and critically analysed. The whole process of news-making that criticises the authoritarian surveillance state stands out as an offensive tactic. On the other hand, defensive tactics are very closely related to the safety of journalists, their sources and data. The paper argues that the variety of offensive and defensive tactics should be increased and they should be substantially improved. The study also sheds light on the need for more detailed and extensive interdisciplinary research.