The struggle for rights was the focus of the fourth day of the training program "From the Classroom to the Newsroom" (OHO) organized by the IPS Communication Foundation. The participants of the program visited media institutions like bianet and TRT Istanbul radio as well as organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Turkish LGTB organization Lambdaistanbul and the Children Research Unit of Bilgi University.
At bianet, the graduates had a chance to discuss rights journalism with the website's editors.
bianet Project Co-ordinator Ertuğrul Kürkçü explained that bianet aims at transforming the mainstream media rather than becoming a part of it. "The mainstream media cannot be the source for the realization of the people's right to be informed as long as the media continues to defend private ownership", Kürkçü said and appreciated the fact that bianet serves as a source particularly for people struggling for rights in social, economic and cultural areas.
The current editor-in-chief, Tolga Korkut, introduced bianet's rotation system to the graduates and told them that the chief editors change in regular intervals. Based on a background of rights journalism, national subjects and peace journalism, Korkut described his pursuit to make people heard whose voices usually remain unheard.
"Rights journalism goes beyond the mere reporting about violations of rights. You also have to focus on the application of rights and on stories with positive outcomes", Korkut said. He furthermore told the graduates about bianet's "language guideline" related to the omission of discriminating, militaristic, sexist and violent language and emphasized the benefit of such a guideline for both the publications and the journalists.
Freedom of Expression Editor Erol Önderoğlu, who regularly prepares the bianet Media Monitoring Reports, highlighted the fact they are directing the attention to the laws that cause violations of freedom of expression instead of putting people to the forefront.
Women Rights Editor Burçin Belge said that all news is connected to the women's interests. Thus, evaluating daily incidents at bianet means to relate them to women rights and reflect women's opinions. "We think that women cannot be imprisoned in certain roles as propagated by the mainstream media", Belge concluded.
Human Rights Editor Erhan Üstündağ gave the following recommendations to the journalist candidates who are thinking about working in the field of human rights journalilsm: "After a while you might think pessimistically. But wherever there are deficits there is also the struggle and it is just as important to reflect this struggle".
Children's Rights Editor Semra Pelek reminded the necessity for journalists to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child. She emphasized the importance of considering the perspective of the child when making news and taking into account the children's opinions.
The lively exchange between the OHO participants and the bianet editors continued over a common lunch. (TA/TK/VK)
Picture: Hasan Yıkıcı.