News Workshop II: Inverted pyramid, siding with the ‘other’ and having lots of patience

The second “News Workshop” organized by the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) took place between September 17-19 in Kilyos and provided young journalists the opportunity to learn about indispensable concepts and techniques of the profession from expert journalists. 

Coordinated by T24 Ankara representative Gökçer Tahincioğlu and Banu Tuna, the Istanbul Branch Chair of the Journalist Union of Turkey (TGS), MLSA’s “News Workshop” took place between September 17-19 in Kilyos with the support of the United States Embassy. The workshop brought together aspiring journalists standing at the beginning of their career and freelancers who could not yet experience the techniques, concepts and processes that are indispensable for the profession with experienced professionals who provided them thematic and technical training. 

Fifteen young journalists from eight cities across Turkey had the opportunity to get to know the requirements and techniques of different fields of journalism in the training sessions offered by Gökçer Tahincioğlu, Banu Tuna, Tuğrul Eryılmaz, Caner Eler, Sedat Yılmaz and Elif İnce. 

Workshop trainings

The first day of the intensive training program started with Banu Tuna’s session titled “News Research.” In the session, which was also joined by the other trainers, Tuna gave a general introduction to news writing. She explained the process of determining whether an issue is newsworthy or not. The session continued with discussions on how the participants could find a topic for the news which they were expected to write until the end of the workshop. 

The workshop’s second session continued with Tuğrul Eryılmaz’s training on “News Writing Techniques.” From news writing processes to interactions with the news editor and from writing adapted to different news channels up to the indispensability of journalistic independence, Eryılmaz explained news techniques on a rich scale to the participants. He also touched on important concepts that have been forgotten or are on the verge of being forgotten in today’s journalism as well as the responsibilities of being a journalist. Pointing out that the news writing style known as “inverted pyramid” does not receive much attention anymore, Eryılmaz stated that this technique is decisive for the quality of the news written. After having explained the inverted pyramid technique, Eryılmaz asked the participants to produce a short news article based on information he provided them. This exercise provided invaluable lessons to the participants as Eryılmaz offered feedback on the short news they had written. Following this short exercise, the session continued. 

Stating that placing the human in the centre and ensuring the actuality of news would increase their readability, Eryılmaz particularly underlined the responsibilities of a journalist. Eryılmaz pointed out that no matter what the journalist’s field was, they must not side with the power holders and instead reminded that a journalist is responsible for amplifying the voices of those who cannot speak up by being concerned with their problems. 

The workshop continued with the session “Judicial Reporting” held by Gökçer Tahincioğlu, who has long-standing experience in the field. Observing that judicial reporting is drawing more and more interest, Tahincioğlu reminded of the fact that a large part of today’s important journalists started their career as judicial reporters. Tahincioğlu underlined that journalism means doing research and pointed out that the news in judicial reporting lies in the details in the texts of investigations and case files which many people do not read. Explaining that access to these sources is crucial for the judicial reporter, Tahincioğlu stated “Relations are everything!” Yet, he reminded that despite those relations, journalists must protect their independence. 

After a short break, the workshop went on with a session on “Sports Journalism” by Caner Eler, who is the Editor-in-Chief of the Socrates Magazine and sports announcer and commentator on different channels, among others Eurosport. Eler opened the session by sharing examples of what he defined as “wrong sports journalism”, such as articles adopting discriminatory language, score-focused or narrow-minded news. Eler called attention to sports journalism becoming more superficial by increasingly surrendering to the culture of fast consumption and contrasted this with a sports journalism that can tell more thorough stories about life with the example of the Socrates Magazine. Citing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ernest Hemingway as examples, Eler underlined that sports journalism does not have to remain distant from literature and history. 

The last session of the day under the title “Human Rights Journalism” was led by Mezopotamia Agency (MA) editor and reporter Sedat Yılmaz. Emphasizing that rights-based journalism means choosing a side, Yılmaz said that the journalist has the responsibility not to side with the powerful but with the other. He underlined that this responsibility does not only apply to humans. Yılmaz explained that rights-focused journalism means to make the voices of everyone and everything, living and non-living, who are impacted by the actions of those holding power, heard. He also shared national and international texts, which everyone considering to enter rights-based journalism should know, with the young journalists. 

The intensive training program from September 18 continued on September 19. The day’s first training titled “Data Journalism” was given by Elif İnce. She explained how to access data sources that are available to the public and can be a rich news source especially when it comes to matters of public interest. From the Trade Registry Gazette to Google Earth, İnce showed the participants with a wide range of examples how to access many newsworthy details. By demonstrating the technical and bureaucratic obstacles that journalists may encounter when trying to access information related to matters of public interest with the help of many examples, İnce pointed out that data journalism requires a lot of patience and creativity. İnce also distributed the guide which she prepared on this topic with the young journalists. 

The last training of the workshop was the session titled “News Evaluation” coordinated by Banu Tuna and Gökçer Tahincioğlu and attended by all trainers. In the session, which Tuna, Tahincioğlu and Eryılmaz opened with general notes, the participants presented the short news they produced during the workshop. The trainers, who commented on all the news read by the participants one by one, provided important advice to the young journalists. 

First editorial meeting of the second issue of “gazeteMLSA”

During the workshop, the first editorial meeting for the next issue of “gazeteMLSA”, of which the first issue was published on July 30, was held. This first of the editorial meetings accompanying the training program was an invaluable experience for the participants, among whom the majority has not worked in a newsroom before and thus has not had the chance to produce news in line with professional forms. In the meeting, the participants presented their article ideas for the newspaper to the trainers. The editorial meetings for the second issue of the newspaper, which Tuna and Tahincioğlu plan to be more profound than during the work on the first issue, will be held regularly.