Journalism requires dedication
I don’t know how true it is to say at the end of June 2021, but 2020 was a difficult year. It was a difficult year for journalism as well as public health. We have lost many valuable colleagues, such as my friend Omar Khashram, a reporter for al Jazeera because of the outbreak. Unlike other professions, journalists, like people involved in the health sector, could not enjoy the shield of working remotely. For this reason, we have worked as journalists and executives of journalism NGOs to convince the government to include journalists in the vaccine priority group. As a result of the efforts of the media organizations, the press card requirement for vaccinations was abolished, and all journalists were given priority in the vaccination. Yet we lost many colleagues to the pandemic.
In today’s article, I wanted to write on journalism, to my friends who have made a significant contribution to our profession, and to reward and encourage some of them. The Western Balkans and Turkey EU Investigative Journalism Awards, co-presented by the Journalists’ Association and the Balkan Investigative Journalism Network (BIRN), were awarded Tuesday evening in a small but meaningful ceremony due to COVID-19 precautions.
The aim of the awards is to celebrate journalists who did not give up their journalism profession and passion in 2020. I was the jury president. Experienced journalist Nursun Erel and Göksel Bozkurt, president of the Association of Parliamentary Correspondents, served as jury members. There were 53 applications, eight of who were shortlisted. We were originally supposed to name three finalists, but we agreed to commend two more journalists for their work by awarding two jury special awards this year.
While reviewing the applications, we had the opportunity to evaluate examples of investigative journalism from different fields. When we reviewed the news articles, we kept in mind the following definition: Investigative journalism is the sort of journalism that one does with the products of his own initiative and work on issues that are important to the reader, viewer or listener. The people who are the subject of the report will mostly want to keep the issues under scrutiny confidential. However, investigative journalism should not necessarily be considered as scandalous journalism or solely focus on scandals. In other words, investigative journalism; rather than being the apparatus of a political power, it is obliged to expose and clarify events that are deeply concerning to the community.
We emphasize at every opportunity that journalism is not a public relations activity and that the two professions should not be confused though might be thought at the same communications faculties. Journalism should be done by people who spare no effort to fulfill the ethics of the profession, and professional media organizations should stand with the journalists who indulged into a rather courageous investigative journalism field. The purpose of the EU Investigative Journalism Awards is to honor journalists who perform the profession with their due respect, because journalism requires, above all, dedication to the public and then to truth, knowledge and impartiality.
Thus, the first of the special awards went to İsa Örken from Evrensel newspaper with his excellent article on “seasonal labor.” On the application form, he stated that he wanted to follow the footsteps of the great journalist and writer Yasar Kemal. Indeed, I suggest you follow our friend who is running fast to become a successful journalist and writer. The second special award went to Hazal Ocak from daily Cumhuriyet over her work on dubious land development deals in Istanbul. Hazal is yet another hope for the future of Turkish journalism.
Hürryet’s Fevzi Kızılkoyun was the recipient of the third prize with his article on special treatment a mafia figure received despite pandemic restrictions.
The news which was awarded second place reveals crimes against humanity on the migration route: “The Iranian border: Between bullets and wolves.” Independent news site Gazete Duvar’s Hale Gönültaş wrote and Volkan Nakiboglu filmed and photographed, thus the award was presented to both.
The first prize went to Murat Ağırel of the Yeni Çağ newspaper. The award was given to a series of seven stories.