Deutsche Welle and three major international media partners have launched a Turkish-language YouTube channel named +90. They aim to strengthen freedom of speech and the press in Turkey.
Deutsche Welle and three other major international media partners have launched a new YouTube channel they say aims to provide "a range of new journalistic information" to users in Turkey, as well as Turks living abroad.
DW has collaborated with the BBC, France24 and Voice of America to create the channel and will join with them in providing video content for it.
The four broadcasters say the channel will feature a broad range of sociopolitical topics covered in reports, background stories and interviews.
Credible information, independent opinions
"We want to use our YouTube channel to provide viewers with credible information that will help them form their own opinions," said DW Director General Peter Limbourg.
"This is a truly unique collaboration with global media outlets aiming to deliver content to a Turkish-speaking audience that is interested in international politics, business, science and culture," said Limbourg.
'This is a truly unique collaboration with global media outlets': DW Director General Peter Limbourg
During a press conference held in Istanbul on Monday, the four international broadcasters have officially uploaded the channel, and a number of videos covering topics ranging from Turkey's current construction crisis to the issue of child brides is already available.
In the future, each international broadcaster will provide an equal amount of video content to the channel, which can be accessed by users at any time.
"Our four media outlets will provide a comprehensive offering of news, partly with the aim of strengthening freedom of speech and the press," explained Limbourg.
“There is great international interest in this country. We would like to contribute to a better understanding by offering a platform for dialogue and involving the audience in ways we haven’t done before,“ said Limbourg in Istanbul.
DW will be in charge of managing the project, with its journalists Erkan Arikan and Isil Nergiz responsible for its development.
This is Arikan's first major project for DW since arriving from German public-service broadcaster WDR in late 2018 when he took over DW's Turkish-language news department.
"We are concentrating on topics that people talk about in Turkish society," said Arikan of the new YouTube project. "The channel does not aspire to deal with current events like a news channel would. Instead, the longer narrative format of YouTube will allow us to take a deeper dive into those topics and let us highlight new aspects of them."
Opening a window to Europe
The project is part of DW's 2018-2021 Strategic Plan, which states that "contrary to the hopes of many, the Turkish government now leaves little doubt about its authoritarian course." DW seeks to represent European values in sociopolitical issues in Turkey, the plan says.
Such aims present a serious challenge in the Turkish market, as the plan points out: "Journalistic work in Turkey is becoming increasingly tough; potential new partners reject any cooperation with independent Western news providers more and more frequently"
For this reason, DW's own platforms have greatly gained in importance. The 2018-2021 Strategic Plan goes on to state: "With the goal of opening a window on Europe, DW is planning to have a joint YouTube channel with other international news providers and possibly a linear TV channel in Turkish."
The 2018-2021 Strategic Plan is a summary of the aims of the taxpayer-funded international broadcaster that it presents every four years. The plan for the years 2018 to 2021 was approved by the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, in June last year.
Praise from politicians
Director General Limbourg presented the new Turkish YouTube channel in the Bundestag at the start of April. Representatives from all parliamentary parties expressed support for the project, calling its creation long overdue.
They had special praise for the range of topics the channel addressed, saying these would be truly valuable for Turkish users.
Limbourg stressed the fact that DW and its partners placed great stock in balanced journalistic content. For this reason, he said, they had been very active in their overtures to the Turkish government, informing leaders there about the new YouTube channel as well as encouraging them to grant interviews to journalists involved in the project.
Such access would allow the channel to present a broader spectrum of opinions, especially when it came to more complex issues, the director general said.
Millions of users worldwide
DW recently expanded its cooperative relationship with France Medias Monde (FFM) — which owns France24 — and the two will publish a series of European elections stories on their respective social media and online sites. But the YouTube channel is unique, being the first to bring four major foreign-service broadcasters together for a common project.
For its part, DW offers independent news and information in 30 languages. Together, DW and FMM reach 320 million people each week with television, radio and online content.
The BBC World Service also produces television, radio and online content in a range of languages for a number of regions. The BBC's international programming reaches a weekly audience of 279 million people.
The fourth partner, Voice of America (VOA), is the United States' largest international broadcaster. VOA broadcasts in more than 40 languages, reaching some 275 million people each week.