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There was plenty of crowing in Turkish newspapers over the weekend, following Friday’s official U.S.-brokered apology from Benjamin Netanyahu for Israel’s killing of nine Turkish citizens on board the Mavi Marmara in 2010. Below is a flavour of some of the less sophisticated front page reactions available on newsstands March 23.

A subtle combination of words and images here from the tabloid Posta. Headline: ‘You are great Turkey.’

A subtle combination of words and images here from the tabloid Posta. Headline: ‘You are great Turkey’

 

Yeni Şafak: ‘For the Gaza martyrs: We made them apologize’ (Spot the difference with Star from the same day: ‘He made them apologize’).

Yeni Şafak: ‘For the Gaza martyrs: We made them apologize’ (Compare with Star from the same day: ‘He made them apologize’)

 

Hürriyet: ‘Apology victory’

Hürriyet: ‘Apology victory’

 

Takvim: ‘Israel came to heel'

Takvim: ‘Israel came to heel’

 

And the view from the orthodox left, from March 25: ‘Kiss, make up, go to war’, referring to Obama’s pressuring of Netanyahu to apologize, helped by Turkey and Israel’s apparently similar perspectives on the Syrian civil war.

And the view from the orthodox left, March 25’s Sol: ‘Kiss, make up, go to war’, referring to Obama’s pressuring of Netanyahu to apologize, assisted by Turkey and Israel’s apparently similar perspectives on the Syrian civil war.

 

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Daily Zaman is often described as Turkey’s most read newspaper, with its circulation having recently tipped over the 1 million mark. It was therefore rather interesting to see a recent chart on medyatava.com indicating that this figure is made up almost entirely of subscribers, with only around 20,000 copies actually bought in shops every day.

This isn’t a complete surprise – for all its faults Zaman has never really been a “populist” newspaper, always self-consciously higher brow than the average fare on the Turkish newsstands. It’s pretty rare to see the local simitçi walking around Istanbul with a copy of Zaman tucked under his arm – at least in comparison with Sabah, Posta, Hürriyet, etc.

The high proportion of subscriptions can almost certainly be ascribed to Zaman’s links to the Fethullah Gülen religious movement (cemaat). Copies of the paper are delivered to most businesses/schools/individuals/hotels associated with the cemaat, which would account for the disproportionately high subscription number. As the “wikileaked” Stratfor intelligence agency cable explained back in 2009:

“FGC [Fethullah Gülen Community] businesses advertise heavily on FGC media, while FGC-owned media runs human interest stories and profiles of FGC sympathisers, businesses and schools. FGC members and sympathisers take holidays in FGC-owned hotels and shop at FGC-owned stores and invest in FGC financial institutions. Graduates of FGC cramming schools funded by FGC businesses often serve as teachers in FGC schools overseas. Finally, FGC media, funded by FGC businesses, reacts sharply to any criticism directed at Fethullah Gulen.”

A similar pattern can be observed at Today’s Zaman, the English-language arm of Zaman, which has 8,500 subscribers to just 1,900 sales.

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While on the dull subject of newspaper circulation figures, it’s worth taking the opportunity to note that since last month’s shock resignations from Taraf, the paper has seen its circulation increase substantially. While Taraf had previously hovered around 50,000, this figure is now approaching close to 70,000. Whether or not the resignations were good from a journalistic perspective, they certainly seem to have made economic sense.

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