ATATÜRk’S THOUGTS ON THE PRESS
The Press is the common voice of a nation. In the illumination and enlightenment of a nation, in furnishing a nation with the intellectual nourishment it needs, in short, ensuring that the nation, the sole target of which is to achieve happiness, walks on a joint path, the press constitutes a force, a school, a guide for such nation. (1922)
I would like to mention the highly appreciated responsibilities of the press in daily life, political life and in the development and progress of the Republic.
There is no need to mention how delicate a situation it is to make absolute use of the freedom of press. Beyond all kinds of legal reservations, a man of letters should have the solemn obligation to regard and respect science, requirements of the day and his own political considerations as well as the rights of the citizens and the esteemed interests of the country, which are beyond all private considerations. And it is this obligation that may ensure public order. Even if there should be failures and faults on this path, the effective instruments to remedy these faults will not be as in the older days, certain institutions that take the press under control. Quite the contrary, the means of removing troubles, born out of the freedom of press, shall be the freedom of press itself. (1924)
But if those fundamental principles, established within the guiding and mature understanding of the Grand Assembly, suggesting that troubles stemming from the freedom of press may only be resolved by way of freedom of press enable those who are far from virtue, which is the spirit of the Republic, to act as plunderer within the press; if the ill-omened affects of the ideas of those deceptive and seductive individuals gives rise to the death of innocent citizens, working on their farms or to the loss of their homes and finally if these deceptive individuals make recourse to the waste type of brigandage and find the opportunity to make use of special favors of laws, then it will be without doubt, inevitable that the Grand National Assembly stretches out its taming and punishing arms in order to interfere and warn.
A press, bearing the mentality and moral values of the republic as a part of the world, may only be created by the Republic itself. While the vision of ruthless newspapers and their connections of the past appears in the minds of the nation, the neat and productive press of the Republic is flourishing. Only a press of such a mentality is able to facilitate and promote the work and the civil life of our noble nation. (1925)
A human society has general common feelings and ideas. The value, degree of civilization, desire and attitude of human societies can only be demonstrated according to the extent these general common feelings and ideas are revealed. For those who are charged with the administration of a human society or individuals, friendly or hostile, who are in the state of ruling over the fate of human societies, public opinion reflects the talents and value of those societies. Thus, nations are obliged to reflect their public opinion to the world. Besides, the public opinion of the whole world needs to be known. To know the public opinion of the whole world is without doubt necessary to arrange requirements of life. In this respect on the other hand, the press constitutes the primary and most important instrument.
The fact that the government shall put top priority on the press, the importance and supremacy of which is well known within the civilizations of the world and that the press is obliged to fulfill its duty in favor of the nation are among the matters the high Assembly definitely demands (1 March 1922)
Publications have the effect of preventing misuses or obliging the government to fulfill its duty properly.
People who are not of a noble mind foster struggles within the press for which they pay. It has been observed that the most vulgar lies have been disseminated by way of the press. There are also other dangers the press and freedom of mind are exposed to. There is the fear that the press and even intellectual societies separate from the attitude of the national government or become the instruments of secret political or economical mal-intentions.
The fact that the press is purchasable by international finance, that the latter has a secret impact on the press or that there is the affect of secret funds financed by foreign states; all these facts contribute to the fear that public opinion may be deceived and misleaded. But all these bad ideas stemming from freedom itself are in no way without remedy.
Journalism, which is no more than lucrative work at first, may turn into a social institution with time. Moreover, the intellectual and political education of the people may also be regarded as a guarantee. People get used to reading and comparing several newspapers.
Above all, it must be accepted that there must be good will and that people with good will, engaged in vital matters will always constitute the majority because it is possible to deceive half of the world at any time or the whole world at another time. But to deceive the whole world all the time is never possible.
Gentlemen, a society has its own common general feelings and ideas. The value, grade of civilization, demands and inclinations of societies can only be made apparent according to the extent they form their general feelings and ideas and express them. For people, who are charged with the administration of a human society or those friendly or hostile individuals, who are in the state of ruling over the fate of human societies, public opinion reflects the talents and value of those societies. Besides, public opinion of the whole world needs to be known. To know the public opinion of the whole world is without doubt necessary to arrange requirements of daily life. In this respect on the other hand, the press constitutes the primary and most important means.
The Press shall in no way be under pressure.
The Turkish press will constitute a iron fortress around the Republic, with the real voice and demands of the people. That will be a fortress of ideas, a fortress of understanding. It is the right of the Republic to expect this from the press. Today it is compulsory that the nation is wholeheartedly united in solidarity. The welfare and happiness of the public depends on this fact. The press is charged with a great deal of important work in the transmission of this fact to the ears, to the conscience of the nation. (February 1924, S.D.II)