When a newspaper decides to publish in English or any language other than its native one, it is safe to assume some of the intended audience is foreign as well. That means a foreign language newspaper does not have the same luxury of taking readers' conceptions of commonplace notions on the paper's country of origin for granted. So, the newspaper's job is to explain these notions, provide insight to complicated procedures and draw comparisons when needed.
The very need for this job is especially pertinent to political news. There are many state organizations unique to Turkey that often have different names to those of their counterparts. Translating terms has always been a tricky subject as well. For instance, job descriptions may be different. Let's take the role of public prosecutors as an example. A reader from the United States will not have the same presuppositions about this position since, while both district attorneys and prosecutors fill the same role when the law is considered, their procedures are quite different. Therefore, a reader from the U.S. will not necessarily understand the entire context and all of the nuances without prior knowledge as to why a prosecutor in Turkey is not trying to curry public favor. As we cannot assume all our readers have this knowledge, we must also explain in related news articles that prosecutors in Turkey are not chosen by popular vote.
Another example relevant to Turkish politics includes the underlying system of separation of powers. These powers are the executive, legislative and judicial powers. If we are to convey a news article on, let's say, an authorization crisis between two of those powers, we have to explain their relations, limits and roles in order to give our readers a full picture. A reader from Turkey may know Justice Minister and Chairman of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) on top of his or her head, but we can't expect the same from a foreign one.
As a newspaper printing in a foreign language, we have another role as well. Every media organization turns to that specific country's local media for their news. That can be a news agency or sometimes a newspaper. The same goes for readers; in order to gain information faster and with more insight, a foreign reader will read local media, especially those in English. This is especially the case when reporting on the deaths of famous people. Over the past couple of months, we reported on the deaths of two Turkish nationals who had also gathered global recognition throughout their life, including the famous writer Yaşar Kemal. I will not go into detail about his life or death since I cannot do it justice. However, after hearing the news of his death, I took a look at Daily Sabah's website to check our coverage. While we were quite quick to break the news, it was an agency-sourced news article. It was lacking depth since it did not feature information on the famous author's life, works or status in Turkish literature. Other newspapers were already updating their articles into more extensive ones after breaking the story, yet Daily Sabah failed to keep up. After checking some of the global news organizations like the BBC, I also saw that they quoted another news organization since it gave more insight into Kemal's life. Later on, Daily Sabah's news article was updated as well, and it was quite comprehensive, perhaps because of its late arrival. However, I do not mean to say that quality comes after speed in journalism. What I mean is that these two are not mutually exclusive, as we can be one step ahead when informing our readers by finding that precious middle ground. It is also worth mentioning that the newspaper featured a comprehensive article on Yaşar Kemal's life and his work by İklim Arsıya.
Even though we took a break last week and therefore could not write about the problem with the Yaşar Kemal article, Daily Sabah seems to have learned from its mistake. Another famous person, actor Zeki Alasya, passed away last week. This time, the breaking news article contained information on Zeki Alasya's movies, his influence on Turkish cinema and gave readers insight into his life.
Times like these are the moments where a country's media is placed in front of the global spotlight. So, in order to achieve success, whether journalistically or commercially, we must be ready to satisfy our readers with extensive coverage and direct world media in the right way.
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