The second term of the News Workshop begins: ‘We wish to create a tradition here’

The first meeting of the second term of the Media and Law Studies Association’s (MLSA) News Workshop was held on October 6-9th in Ağva, İstanbul with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Turkey Office.

In the workshop coordinated by T24 Ankara Correspondent Gökçer Tahincioğlu and Turkey Journalists’ Union (TGS) İstanbul Chair Banu Tuna, young journalists got to learn and discuss about data journalism, legal papers literacy and news writing techniques in sessions by Tuğrul Eryılmaz, Banu Tuna, Gökçer Tahincioğlu, Elif İnce and Veysel Ok.

MLSA’s Co-Director Barış Altıntaş opened the workshop with a speech in which she explained the aim of the project. Altıntaş stated that the purpose of the workshop is to provide experience to young and freelance journalists who do not have the chance to get such experience in newsrooms as well as to train qualified journalists.

‘You can’t report if you can’t write well’

The first editorial meeting began after Altıntaş’s speech. Banu Tuna and Gökçer Tahincioğlu who ran the meeting, asked the participants to see the workshop as a newsroom. Emphasizing that they paid particular attention to choosing those who wish to continue being journalists, Tahincioğlu said “We wish to create a tradition here. Our purpose here is to produce news and the first of that is to write well. You can’t report if you can’t write well. We want you to move away from news reports which only contain remarks and opinions and to specialize, to move towards journalism which requires you to do in-depth research.” 

In the session, Tuna and Tahincioğlu evaluated the news suggestions which the participants presented for the fourth issue of gazeteMLSA and shared their notes on the suggestions.

Legal document literacy

The second session of the day was “Legal document literacy” by MLSA’s Co-Director and human rights lawyer Veysel Ok.

Ok shared with the participants basic legal concepts and norms. Underlining the things a journalist who works with legal papers and who follows legal procedures to be wary of, Ok explained how a journalist should monitor hearings and how the monitored hearing should be reported.

Eryılmaz: It is not a journalist’s job to pontificate

After Ok’s session, experienced journalist Tuğrul Eryılmaz shared his valuable experiences and knowledge with the participants in his session titled “News writing techniques and journalism ethics.”

Eryılmaz opened the session by asking the questions “What is news and what is not?” and “What is newsworthy and what is not?” and proceeded to provide the answers. 

Saying that news writing is nothing like writing a column, Eryılmaz said “What is important for you is the news you choose. You pick your side with that choice. You cannot speak for the minorities, but you can hand your microphone to them to let them talk about their troubles and complaints. You have to be very careful about the language you use while doing all of that. It is not your job to pontificate. 

After having told the participants about the inverted pyramid technique, Eryılmaz instructed the participants to write a short news report. Eryılmaz gave his feedback about the short news reports. In the session, Eryılmaz also shared with the participants his own experiences regarding the process of news writing, interacting with one’s editor as well as the importance of independence for a journalist. Eryılmaz urged young journalists to never side with those in power, no matter the form of the power they hold.

News writing techniques and judicial reporting

The last session of the day was “News writing techniques and judicial reporting” by Gökçer Tahincioğlu. In the first part of the two-hour session, Gökçer talked about various news writing techniques. Paying special attention to the inverted pyramid technique, Tahincioğlu asked the participants to write a short news article using this technique. Then, Tahincioğlu evaluated each news article written by the participants and gave his feedback.

In the second part of the session, Tahincioğlu explained judicial reporting. As an experienced in the field, Tahincioğlu shared with the participants the determining factors of being a successful judicial reporter. Tahincioğlu warned participants to read legal documents very carefully or risk factual errors while reporting. Emphasizing that journalism means doing your research, Tahincioğlu told the participants that in judicial reporting the real story resides in investigation and case files which many people tend to neglect.

Techniques of news writing

The workshop continued on October 8th with the session titled “Techniques of news writing” by Banu Tuna.

On the first day of the workshop, Tuna assigned the participants to find a newsworthy subject in Ağva and prepare a news report on it. In the session, Tuna evaluated the news reports prepared by the participants. Examining the language used in the news report, the focus of the news report and the technique used in the news report, Tuna provided her feedback to the participants.

Data journalism

The second of the workshop continued with the session titled “Data journalism” by Elif İnce. İnce shared with the participants the methods of accessing publicly available data which they can use in their news reports with examples varying from the Commercial Registry Gazette to Google Earth. Moving on from her own personal experience, İnce also shared with the participants technical and bureaucratic obstacles they might experience and need to overcome in accessing publicly available data. 

A second editorial meeting concluded the workshop in Ağva. In the session run by Tahincioğlu and Tuna, the participants presented the news reports they prepared during the workshop and were given feedback in the first editorial meeting. After the discussion about the news reports, the participants were asked to prepare their news reports they wish to submit for gazeteMLSA.

Even though the first meeting of the second term of MLSA’s News Workshop was concluded, online editorial meetings will continue until the publication of the fourth issue of gazeteMLSA.