Brave, independent and free: Ahval is two years old!

Today Ahval is starting its third year.

Ahval aims to provide true, balanced, many-sided news and analysis, and brave and honest comment on Turkey and its place in the world at a time when the profession of journalism has been destroyed by its government and its propaganda machine.

We are now one of the main sources of news on Turkey and the feedback from readers is overwhelmingly positive. We hope to show that good, honest journalism can overcome the barriers of fear and oppression. 

When we started two years ago, our small team knew what awaited us. We knew we would have to fight slander, lies and suspicion in a hostile environment dominated by power, greed and self-interest.

We aimed to train a critical eye on those wielding political and economic power however and give space to a range of different, even opposing, views free from the self-censorship so prevalent inside Turkey. No matter what anyone has said about us, no matter what label they have tried to pin on us, we have focused on producing honest journalism.

In response, we have faced successive efforts to block access to our website, but we have shown that the ways to reach our readers cannot be exhausted. The bans and slander against us have only convinced us we are on the right track. 

A year ago, we expanded our output and launched the Ahval podcast series, covering topics from the economy, health, history, politics and the environment. In that short time, we have become the number one source of podcasts on Turkey, reaching the dynamic younger generation of Turks and Kurds.

In the last year, our pages have been visited more than 60 million times by more than 10 million people, more than two million of them from the United States and Germany alone. The number of unique visitors is close to 200,000 a day, or 4 million a month. Almost half of our readers are in Turkey, 15 percent in the United States, more than 10 percent in EU countries, and close to 10 percent from Arab countries.

Some 35 percent of our readers are aged between 25 and 34, 30 percent between 18 and 24; 17 percent between 35 and 44, and close to 15 percent between 45 and 54.

While conveying news and comment that we value from other sources, we have always tried to respect ethical rules and give references to these sources.

I give the floor to Ahval Turkish editor Ergun Babahan:
"Journalism has always been a troubled profession in Turkey. In the past, newspapers ignored the preferences of the people and kept within the boundaries set by the military General Staff. But there were still institutions and individuals trying to practice journalism.

“But not anymore. Professional dignity has been trodden on. The General Staff has been replaced by Erdoğan and the Presidential Palace. He is able to control all the media through his son-in-law and his son-in-law’s brother … Today there are only a handful of colleagues practicing journalism in Turkey and they face the constant risk of imprisonment.

“Self-censorship has reached its highest point in history. Such conditions increase the importance and value of publications based on objectivity and truth. Ahval is trying to do just that with its small staff.

“As we step into our third year, the response of our readers shows we are on the right track … A Turkey with a free press and true democracy is our greatest wish.''

Ilhan Tanir, the editor of Ahval English, shares his opinion:

“We have chased the news and tried to show what has happened, adding comment from experts without being trapped into becoming an activist publication. We have never censored ourselves and our journalism.

“When we have made mistakes, we have raced to correct and acknowledge them, so as to build the trust of our readers… When there has been good news about Turkey, we wrote about it, though good news sadly seems to becoming increasingly rare.

“We hope Ahval has become a trusted source of news and analysis about Turkey, both on the domestic and diplomatic fronts.”

Ahval Arabic editor Ghassan Ibrahim:

"Many Ahval readers believe it is a long-standing, well-established media website even though it has only been around for two years. Producing news in Turkish, English and Arabic also extends our reach and adds to our credibility. The crucial Arab perspective on Turkey and its relations with its Arab neighbours is often missing in Western media. The sources that we have in Ahval Arabic also feed into the Turkish and English sections of the site and enrich their coverage.”

I finished my article on the first anniversary of Ahval with these lines:
"We will continue to respond to all efforts to silence or discredit us with the quality content we provide to our readers and followers.”

As Ziya Paşa says: "A tree is known by its fruit.”

In an environment where many voices are silenced, printed media is dying and censorship has reached a peak, we are a pluralist meeting point for opinions and conflicting ideas.
We are not a venue for the propaganda of any interest group, political organisation, religious entity or power. We are only followers of the truth. 

As Ahval turns three, I would like to thank the Ahval team, our reporters and our contributors who share their courageous and independent opinions with our readers, for turning Ahval into a rising star.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.