Under Turkish law, journalists are subject to Law No. 5953 on Arrangement of Relations Between Employers and Employees in the Field of Press (the Press Labour Law), which sets out the terms and conditions of their employment.
The former wording of article 1 of the Press Labour Law stated that the law covered:
- those who work in any kind of intellectual or artistic works at news and photo agencies, periodical publications and newspapers published in Turkey and those who fall outside the definition of "worker" under the Turkish Labour Law; and
- their employers.
Those who work, for a salary, at intellectual and artistic works that fall under the scope of the Press Labour Law are defined as "journalists".
Settled precedents of the Court of Cassation stressed that, despite the fact that a newspaper must be published and reproduced, the physical printing and distribution of newspapers are not a requirement given the current stage of technology and communication today. In this regard, the Court of Cassation considered the employees working for electronic newspapers to be journalists.
On 18 October 2022, the Law Amending the Press Labour Law and Certain Laws No. 7418 (the Amendment Law) was published in the Official Gazette No. 31987. Article 1 of the Amendment Law amended article 1 of the Press Labour Law and included "internet news site" within the scope of the law.
The parliamentary bill of the Amendment Law and the reports of the Digital Media Commission and the Justice Commission provide information as to the reasoning of this amendment as follows:
The ease of accessing information with a single click puts the internet ahead of other communication means. However, internet news sites which allow easy access to the news and their employees could not enjoy the rights granted to newspapers and journalists. In order to resolve this situation, the Parliamentary Bill included internet web sites in the scope of the Press Law No. 5187 and the Press Labour Law, and their employees are evened up with the press employees working at written media. With the amendment to the Press Labour Law, those working in intellectual and artistic works at internet news sites in exchange of salary are included in the definition of journalist. This amendment intends to fortify the freedom of speech and the right to receive accurate news . . . . Internet news sites are included in the scope of the Press Labour Law. This amendment will contribute majorly to the employees working at these media and ease their financial status as they will be able to take ads and publications.
In light of the above, pursuant to the Amendment Law, those working on intellectual and artistic works at internet news sites for a salary will be considered journalists and enjoy the rights granted to journalists in line with the Court of Cassation's settled practice.
First published by ILO - Employment & Immigration Newsletter in 01.03.2023.