Zaman’s circulation figures – the Gülen effect?
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 ofZaman
tucked under his arm – at least in comparison with Sabah
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.”
Another, lower profile, newspaper known to be closely affiliated with the Gülen movement is Yeni Asya
, and a similar pattern can be observed there (45,800 subscriptions to 5,600 sales). Meanwhile, Today’s Zaman
, the English-language arm of Zaman
has 8,500 subscribers and 1,900 sales.
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.