About Murat Yetkin and journalism

About Murat Yetkin and journalism

Murat Yetkin, the editor-in-chief of the Hürriyet Daily News, is leaving the paper. It is particularly an important piece of news for me as I really do think he is the embodiment of how a journalist should be at any age.

I have never seen him being forced to publish a correction as he does his research perfectly before printing anything. He knows his sources well and he knows how to turn bits of seemingly unrelated information into breaking news. In all the years I have been writing this column, he has never sent back any article I have written for being for or against the government.

Due to technological developments, journalism is changing drastically, but the need for journalists like Yetkin will never end.

Social media brings us news faster than we could ever imagine. But we have lost the essence of news while in trying to be faster. Some journalists have begun to post “stuff” they heard and written “stuff” they do not have any proof of, just to be the first to publish that piece of “news.” Yetkin never resorted to that, he had always been loyal to how journalism should be. If you heard about something, check it and recheck it until you are sure it is true.

Journalists should not be in competition with the ordinary citizen for speed of getting information out. We will always lose that battle. Our battle should be about the quality of our writing and the authenticity of our breaking news stories.

It has been scientifically proven that fake news travels faster. A major study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on fake news found misinformation spreads much faster and further than the truth on Twitter. Researchers suggest people feel a stronger sense of surprise and disgust at fake news, which makes them more likely to share it.

The findings make for depressing reading as politicians around the world grapple with how to educate people about determining fake news and the truth. “We found that falsehood diffuses significantly farther, faster, deeper and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information and in many cases by an order of magnitude,” said Sinan Aral, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of the paper. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are under big pressure to do more to stop the spread of fake news.

As journalists, we should not be feeding that fire. Yetkin understood that and acted accordingly. I have learned a lot from him even though we have not spent much time together.