Let me explain something about my work. Some people who react to my websites, both here and in the Dutch version, don’t understand that there are actually opinions published here. ‘You are a journalist aren’t you, so you have to be neutral and objective!’ The thing is that, as a journalist, you can’t do more than try to be objective and you will never succeed, and second, one of the tasks of journalism is to analyse the news, put it in perspective and comment on it.
Objectivity doesn’t exist. In a simple short news article, you can seemingly stick to the facts easily. Still, even when you write about the smallest news item, there are choices to be made: what to put in the article and what not, which details are relevant, which words to chose, which sources to check. The art of the profession is to choose which things are relevant to mention and how to give the best description of what’s happening. And always limited by the space you have.
There’s another reason why even a news article can’t be objective: for a start the choice of what to write about and about what not to write about, is subjective. What’s relevant news, for whom? In background stories this is even more so: which big stories are worth telling, which are not? That’s based on what magazines want to buy, but also on what you find interesting and important subjects as a journalist, and of course also by the news and current affairs. I love writing about politics, human rights, minorities and women’s lives and less about, for example, economy, tourism and showbiz. Totally subjective, even more so as I chose Turkey to work in, because I think these themes are important issues here. For Turks that’s sometimes hard to get: their definition of the term ‘minorities’ for example is already different than mine, let alone the consideration of how much importance the subject needs to be given. A similar story can be told about human rights subjects, and for women’s issues too.
So what am I going to do? Quit writing about these subjects because every choice I make in it is so subjective? No, of course not. I came to Turkey because I want to let people know what’s going on here, I want to share the views of different groups and individuals with my readers, I want my readers to get to know Turkey better. All based on information that I bring to you as honestly and professionally as possible. While doing that, I get to know the country better and better – and of course, all this knowledge raises new questions again, only complicating matters ;-). I develop my opinions, and feel so lucky I’m a journalist in an era in which it is so easy to create my own platform. I publish my stories on old fashioned paper and here, but anything I can’t sell, all the opinions I cannot publish in paper form, I can express in the blog posts on this website.
You could see this site as an all-in journalism package: news in short articles, backgrounds in long reports, opinions and observations in blog posts, and if you follow me on twitter, you also get news flashes, tweets about some private things, and snap shot pictures about the news and life in Turkey. It all reflects on how I practice journalism in Turkey. Developing and expressing opinions is not a lack of professionalism, it’s an inevitable and inalienable part of it.