Image: Freepik


In this study, which constitutes the first census research focusing on local media in Turkey, we aimed to identify all local outlets operating in 81 provinces and the basic demographical data of these outlets. Within the scope of the project, which was carried out for 8 months between July 2020 and February 2021, a mixed research methodology consisting of two stages was applied. At the first stage, all currently existing media databases and press lists were examined, and provincial-based special web searches were carried out in order to identify the existing outlets that serve as a reference for the local media space in Turkey. As a result of this detailed desk-based research, it was detected that there were 3240 local outlets operating in the local media. In the second phase of the research, a comprehensive field research was carried out to verify the data obtained during the desk-based research and to collect the data that could not be reached during the desk-based research, and a survey was conducted with 1222 local media outlets. In this context, the prominent results of the research are as follows:

  • Given that the number of outlets identified within the scope of the research (3240 outlets) is quite high, research findings indicates that the local media in Turkey has a significant potential in terms of publication/broadcast scope and influence capacity. In this respect, the research data emphasizes the importance of setting an agenda regarding the position, current conditions and obtacles of local media in Turkey.

  • The foundation years of the local media outlets examined during the research show that the number of outlets established in the local media has increased significantly since the beginning of the 2000s. The increase in the number of local outlets in terms of all publication/broadcast types, especially after 2015, draws attention to the fact that the local media continues to develop despite the increasing political and economic pressures in the recent period.

  • According to the research results, local media outlets are mostly located in the Marmara, Mediterranean and Aegean regions. While it is seen that there are relatively few local media outlets in the Black Sea and Central Anatolia regions, Eastern Anatolia and Southeastern Anatolia are the regions with the least number of local media outlets in the research. The city-based distribution of outlets shows that local media are generally concentrated in metropolitan cities such as Istanbul, Mersin, Bursa and Izmir. These results highlight the need to strengthen local media in certain regions by showing regional imbalances in the development of local media.

  • Research data shows that local media outlets are most active in print and digital media. While the number of detected “local newspapers” (1542 outlets) and “local digital news platforms” (1197 outlets) is quite high, “local magazines” (118 outlets), “local radios” (263 outlets) and “local televisions” (136 outlets), seem to be limited in local media. These results reveal that local publication/broadcast can only be carried out through certain media mediums and there is a need for development of local audiovisual broadcasting in particular.

  • The data we obtained in the research shows that outlets in the local media generally publish/broadcast locally for the city they are located in, and very few outlets are able to offer publication/broadcast scope and content on a regional scale. According to the the research results, only 43 of the 1222 outlets surveyed work on a regional scale. Accordingly, the results point out that the coverage of local media is city-based, and most outlets are insufficient to offer regional publication/broadcast in terms of technical and equipment capacity.

  • Another prominent finding of the research is that the rate of digital publication in local media is quite high. According to the data, 82.6% of the local outlets identified during the desk-based research publish local news through their official websites. In addition, when looking at the distribution of media in the local media, digital news platforms (34.6% of all local outlets) stand out as the second publication/broadcast medium with the highest number of outlets. These data, which reveal the noteworthy level of digital publishing/broadcasting through websites in local media, reflect that local media has made a significant development in terms of adaptation to digital media.

  • The social media usage and platform preferences of local outlets also carry important findings about the digitalization level in the local media. According to the research data, the majority of the surveyed outlets (89%) have official accounts on various social media platforms. Among the data, Facebook (87.2%) and Twitter (72.3%) stand out as the most preferred social media platforms among all local publication/broadcast types. This significant level of social media usage and specific platform preferences by local media outlets show that local media try to reach their audience by instrumentalizing different digital channels, similar to national media.

  • When the publication/broadcast contents by the local media are examined, it is seen that more content is produced under general themes such as national agenda, politics and economy & finance in all local outlets, while the level of content produced in specific areas such as culture & arts, health, sports, tourism, agriculture & livestock is lower. This finding reveals that the content in local media is mostly shaped in line with the national agenda, as such in  the national media. Thus, this also indicates that local media outlets are weak in producing publication/broadcast on specific themes reflecting local dynamics of the city/region where they are located in. In other words, local media stays limited in producing authentic local media content.

  • It has been known that the increasing financial pressures on the media sector have impacted the outlets in the local media negatively, and many local outlets have downsized or decided to withdraw from publication/broadcast due to economic problems (IPI, 2019). Similarly, research data confirms that the financial contraction in the local media has reached to a serious level and the pandemic process has led to a downsizing trend among local media outlets. The results show that 72 out of 1222 local outlets surveyed have stopped publishing/broadcasting actively, while 55 outlets go downsizing both in terms of number of employees and publication/broadcast capacity due to the struggle caused by the pandemic.

  • According to the data obtained on the number of employees in the local media, a total of 4996 employees work in 1222 local media outlets surveyed. While the majority of these employees (68.7%) are male, the very limited number of female employees (31.3%) draws attention to the gender inequality in employment processes in local media. The distribution of the number of employees in the local media per outlet shows that an average of 4 people work in each outlet. When the distribution of the employees' duties within the outlets is examined, it is seen that the number of employees is equally distributed among the administrative, office, field and other administrative & technical positions. This finding reflecting that a limited number of employees are optimized by assigning them into multiple tasks in local media outlets, also reveals the impact of limited financial revenue in local media outlets on the human resource utilization. 

  • Another factor affected by financial problems in local media outlets is working conditions. Most of the surveyed local media employees (66.4%) confirms that there are financial problems in their outlets such as “low circulation & audience rate, insufficient advertising revenues, insufficient budget for printing & publishing, technical equipment and employee salaries”. Likewise, employees (63.6%) state that these financial problems in their outlets negatively affect working conditions (salary, working hours, number of employees, adequate technical equipment, etc.). These budget inadequacies at the institutional level not only make the institutional sustainability of the outlets in the local media difficult, but also create serious problems in terms of working conditions and employee satisfaction.

  • When the satisfaction level with the working conditions in the local media are evaluated, it is found that employees are generally satisfied with the number of employees in their outlets (59.7%), technical equipment capacity (68%), the amount of salary provided (61.5%), employee benefits (61.9%) and fringe benefits such as food and transportation facilities (61.1%). However, the data show that local media employees have difficulty in accessing contracted employment under social security (39.3%), proportionate working hours and overtime pay (37.2%) in line with the legal regulations. In this respect, the research results provide important indicators that in many local media outlets  the working conditions are not determined in line with the legal requirements.  


In line with these results reached within the scope of the research, various steps need to be taken in order to remedy the sectoral problems of the local media and to improve its future conditions. The recommendations made in this context are as follows:

  • The findings reached within the scope of the research show that the most fundamental problem in local media outlets is the source of finance and institutional sustainability. Particularly with the pandemic period, the withdrawal from publishing/broadcasting or capacity reduction decisions of local media outlets, which are observed to increase even more, pose a serious threat to the future of local media. In order to solve this financing problem having negative consequences on both institutional capacity and working conditions in local media outlets, some restrictive rules and regulations in the press advertisement system should be reconsidered. Since the public advertisements given by Press Advertisement Institution (BIK) constituties the main financial source for most local media outlets, the criteria for gaining public advertisement publication right should be facilitated, the payments and frequency of advertisements should be increased, and additional supports such as institutional credits and loans should be provided. Moreover, increasing public funding for the pandemic period and providing more special funds for local media organizations are critical for the sustainability of local publications and broadcasting.

  • Data on the regional distribution of local media reveal that local media outlets are concentrated in certain regions and cities, and that diverse local representation cannot be achieved because there are not enough media outlets in some regions. Considering the important role played by local media outlets in terms of democracy and freedom of expression at the local level,  public decision makers and sector regulators should initiate the necessary sanctions in order to strengthen the local press and empower the establishment of new media organizations in the needed regions.

  • Another striking finding of the research is that outlets in the local media mostly offer local publications through print and digital channels, and there are a very limited number of radio and television stations that offer audio-visual broadcasting in certain regions. A similar limitation is also observed in the themes of publication/broadcast content of local organizations, which are not locally authentic and generally shaped in line with the national agenda.In this respect, it is seen that there is a need for comprehensive local publications/broadcasts and producer outlets that can offer authentic local content in diverse publication/broadcast types. In order to increase the number of qualified local media content & producers, regulations on media ownership and licensing processes should be facilitated, new regulations conditioning vocational training and experience in publication/broadcast should be developed, and new local media formations should be encouraged with grant incentives.

  • According to the research results, most of the local media outlets are trying to conduct their activities with a limited number of employees who are assigned to multiple positions and tasks at the same time. This problem, which is usually caused by the lack of financial resources, causes the reduction of publication/broadcast capacity in local organizations, worsening working conditions and a decline in merit based specilization in local journalism. In order to ensure the number of qualified employees in local media outlets, public incentives should be created to encourage more recruitment, legal regulations conditioning minimum number of employees and qualified vocational training & experience should be strengthened; a curriculum for professional practice and specialization in the field should be improved in media and communication schools.

  • The data obtained on the working conditions in the local media show that most of the employees in the local media outlets work without a contract and under working hours  exceeding the legal limits. To improve working conditions in the local media, sectoral supervisory committes, new legal regulations and complaints and support mechanisms should be established  to prevent professional rights violations. 
  • The significant gap between the number of women and men employees reveals that gender equality is not considered during employment processes in local media outlets. In order to ensure an employment process based on gender equality, it is of great importance to introduce legal regulations to increase the number of female employees and managers in the sector. In addition, professional associations and organizations carrying leading positions in the sector should include more female members, also awareness campaigns and incentives for gender equality are among the steps to be taken to strengthen women's representation in the local media