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Culture

Turkish Newspaper Already Part of Europe

With a daily circulation of 600,000, Hürriyet is Turkey's largest newspaper. The paper's European edition prints some 100,000 copies -- most of which are sold in Germany.

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Turkish newspapers report on the country's EU bid

When the printer and publisher Dogan Media Group opened a new headquarters in a Frankfurt suburb two years ago, Turkey's Vice Premier Mesut Yilmaz called for the media to build a "bridge of understanding between cultures."

The Dogan Media Group owns various newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations. Its flagship publication is the popular broadsheet Hürriyet -- which means translates as Freedom or Independent.

Up to now, the conservative daily was known for presenting a not so positive image of Germany, while glorifying the motherland. Nevertheless, Hürriyet has indeed devoted itself to building a "bridge of understanding."

Bridge between cultures

At first, the paper was a bridge for emigrant Turks to their old homeland. Starting in 1965, Hürriyet was flown in to Germany for its readership, the Turkish day laborers known as "guest workers" who were brought to the country. Since 1973, the paper has carried Germany supplements, aimed at the readers living there.

Türkische Zeitungen

Front pages of some Turkish papers

In early 2002, Hürriyet editors decided to print the inserts in German, in order to appeal to young readers -- third generation Turks who grew up in Germany and whose spoken and written language is mainly German. Turkish remains the working language of the editorial offices, though.

Focus on Germany

Given its large circulation -- 600,000 --- Hürriyet is the most widely read Turkish daily. Its subsidiary Europa Hürriyet, with a print run of 100,000, serves Turks that live overseas, according to acting Editor in Chief Ayhan Can.

"We appear in over 20 countries from Canada to Australia, and across Europe into Macedonia," Can said. "We have bureaus in European capitals including London, Brussels, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and, of course, in many big cities in Germany."

With 70,000 copies sold there, Germany accounts for nearly three quarters of the Eurepean-Hürriyet's sales. And wherever a large concentration of Turks live, the paper has put its correspondents. Hürriyet has bureaus in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Cologne.

In July 2002 Europa Hürriyet moved from one Frankfurt suburb to another, this time to the small town of Walldorf. There, the Dogan Media Group built an extremely modern printing and publishing center, one of the largest investments of a Turkish company in Europe. The sports newspaper Fanatik and the Social-Democratic oriented Turkish daily Milliyet are printed here, as is the Wall Street Journal Europe and Sportwelt.

" Hürriyet in Europe is an outreach arm of Hürriyet in Turkey. We gather news and send it to Turkey," Can explained. There it is edited and laid out, and sent via a link to the printing presses in Walldorf.

Lifeline to Ankara

Germany was the natural spot for the Dogan empire to set up its European headquarters. Germany has a Turkish population of 2.6 million, more than any other country outside of Turkey.

When Turkish "guest workers" came to Germany in the 1960s, Hürriyet was hard on their heels. The paper was a lifeline to Ankara, gave the Turks in Germany news from home, and played the role of teacher about daily life in Germany.

"For the first generation in Germany, we were their 'translator' on complex topics like retirement funds, the social system, and company pensions. The explanations were much appreciated," Can recalled.

The first generation of Turkish emigrants is for the most part now retired. Their children and grandchildren, the second and third generation, grew up in Germany. Reason enough for editors at Hürriyet to keep their idea of their readership up to date.

Media mogul Ayit Dogan, a strong proponent for Turkish entry into the European Union, seems to have the image of the modern Turk in Germany in mind. Up to now, papers like Hürriyet frequently had a nationalistic tone. But now, that is expected to change. Not only did Dogan publish Johannes Rau's speech about intercultural understanding in both German and Turkish in the Europa Hürriyet in 2002, he gave the then-president of Germany a gift: the first German-language printing of Hürriyet.

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