Workshop on Journalism
News Workshop III: One step closer to the second issue of gazeteMLSA

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Bolu – With the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Turkey Office, the Media and Law Studies Association held the third News Workshop between November 11 and 14, in Bolu. Coordinated by T24 Ankara Correspondent Gökçer Tahincioğlu and Turkey Journalists’ Union (TGS) İstanbul Chair Banu Tuna, the event was held in Bolu with the necessary pandemic precautions in place. Seventeen early-career journalists from eight different cities participated in the workshop where they learned about indispensable journalistic techniques and concepts from connoisseur journalists.

The participants were provided with a platform where they learned and discussed issues relating to data visualization, journalism ethics in conflict areas, legal literacy in addition to judicial and economic reporting in the sessions delivered by journalists Banu Tuna, Gökçer Tahincioğlu, Şebnem Turhan, Can Ertuna and lawyer Veysel Ok.

Workshop sessions

Opening remarks of the workshop were delivered by FNF Turkey Program Director Gülçin Sinav, where she touched upon the importance of journalism in the protection of fundamental rights and democracy. The workshop began with MLSA Co-director, human rights lawyer Veysel Ok’s session titled “Legal Literacy.” Ok shared fundamental legal concepts and norms with the participants and provided them with details about reading legal documents, following up on legal processes and reporting on them.

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Enriched by the contributions and questions of the participants, the session ended with a small test; the winner, Anıl Cengiz Bölükbaş received his prize from Ok.

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The workshop continued with Tahincioğlu’s “Judicial Reporting Practice” session where the participants put to use the information and techniques they learned from the previous workshop held in Kilyos, in an attempt to form news stories on the basis of an indictment distributed by Tahincioğlu. Commenting and providing feedback on the news stories penned by each participant, Tahincioğlu shared critical judicial reporting techniques and stressed the importance of daintiness in going through legal documents as even the smallest errors lead up to factual mistakes.

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The first day of the workshop ended with Dünya newspaper Finance Editor Şebnem Turhan’s “Economic Journalism” session. Turhan began her session by emphasizing that aspiring journalists interested in the field must not fear economy and finance, as one does not require to obtain a bachelor’s degree in economics to report on economic matters. Turhan’s session focused on the fundamental material of every economic reporter, namely statistical data. Introducing the participants with the necessary open resources and data acquisition methods, Turhan noted that reporting on such data is not independent from the journalist’s commentary. In this respect, splitting the participants into two groups, Turhan shared a data set with them and asked one group to interpret the data from a “good” perspective, and the other from a “bad.” In concluding, the participants and Turhan read each news report and provided their feedback on them.

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The second day of the workshop started with the session “Digital Storytelling” where Tuna began by sharing an article penned by a GPT-3, an autoregressive language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. Faced with such “competitor,” the story needs visualization in order to increase its readability and impact, Tuna said, and shared some visualization techniques and relevant tools. In the end, participants were given a task to form a news report where they visualized a simple story and data.

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Journalist Ayberk Can Ertuna from Bahçeşehir University’s Faculty of Communications led the second session of the second day, where he spoke of international media literacy and ethical problems of journalism in conflict zones. Ertuna shared the responsibilities of journalists in conflict zones and stressed the primary responsibility of reporting on human loss without being instrumentalized by the manipulations of the parties of the conflict. Emphasizing the fact that the language in reporting on the information coming from conflict zones is of great importance that it could have reflections on the field, Ertuna called on the participants to form a news report by distributing a fictional war scenario and provided feedback on each towards the end of his session.

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The workshop’s final session was moderated by Tahincioğlu and Tuna, where participants presented the two different news stories they penned respectively within the scope of Tahincioğlu’s and Tuna’s sessions.

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Third editorial meeting of the second issue of gazeteMLSA

The workshop concluded with the third editorial meeting of the second issue of gazeteMLSA. The third editorial meeting, of which the first was held in Kilyos and the second online, participants shared the information they collected for the preparation of their news stories for the second issue. The participants who received feedback regarding their processes of research and writing also shared their news story pitches. The work on gazeteMLSA is ongoing…