People wonder. And they wonder many things.
They wonder about what people they don’t meet anymore are doing, the weather forecast for tomorrow and bus hours. Curiosity is perhaps our most distinct characteristic as humans. We ask questions because we wonder. Not everyone wonders things similarly of course. Some are branded as a ‘thick-skinned’ as they don’t seem interested enough and some are subjected to the word ‘ meddler’ for asking too many questions.
So, is people’s general curiosity the same with the one of a journalist?
Or is it enough to have curiosity to be a journalist?
Perhaps the 10th of January is a good opportunity to talk about these questions.
There is, of course, a difference between wondering about something we encounter every day and wondering about the social and political situation happening in the country. To understand the difference better, maybe we should ask a question which is: Who is a journalist? For an answer, we can take a look at the words of investigative journalist Uğur Mumcu, who is seen as an important person in terms of the freedom of the press, is known for his respect and seriousness towards his occupation and passed away in 1993:
How would you define a journalist? Who is a journalist, and what does he do? What is his purpose? Does being a journalist mean to bring forward an idea, know everything?
Of course, it doesn’t. How can a journalist know everything? In my opinion, a journalist is a person who reaches the news and information source fastest and presents these to the readers. To fullfil this duty, a journalist has to write articles that are based on the news, events, facts, documents and information. And for this to happen, a journalist has to be a trustworthy person.
Investigative Journalist Uğur Mumcu
Milliyet Newspaper, May 3 1992
The Journalists Day celebrated on October 23rd in the world, is celebrated on January 10th in Turkey as ‘’ Working Journalists Day’ since January 10 1961. Everything started on January 10th 1961 when the act that enhances some of the legal rights of the journalists was accepted and published on Official Gazette. The bosses of the big gazettes announced that the gazettes would shut down to boycott this act but this decision didn’t belong to editors in chief, secretaries or to anyone who made a gazette what it is. Exactly from this reason, the journalists published a gazette called ‘ The Press’ for three days. And since that day, on January 10 Working Journalists Day, the journalists who continue to break a sweat, investigate and ask questions are remembered with respect and celebrated.
To have the freedom of the press, journalists asking questions can be seen as first step to reach the facts. Questions multiple and change shapes. At this point, curiosity plays the role of the driving force, logic of guiding light and work ethics of the guide for the whole process to keep going.
‘ Turkish press is going to build a steely castle around the republic where the true voice and willpower of the nation raise. A castle of thought, a castle of way to the thought. It is the republic’s right to ask these from the press.’
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Journalists having an objective point of view is perhaps their most important characteristic. It is of utmost importance for them to direct the process with steady objective thoughts. If the news is presented with personal emotions, it can be mixed with interpretations and the news can be subjective. Thus the news may fail at representing all sides.
We celebrate the journalists who practice their profession with all these values and more, who continue asking questions, on their special day and other days as well and thank them for their work.
Translator: Esra Nur Elmas
For Uğur Mumcu’s biopic documantary please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHCrmtCdUIY
For those who are learning Turkish we recommend you to read the article again by comparing the Turkish one to improve your Turkish!