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'Anadolu Agency creates balance in news agency world'

Anadolu Agency reflecting what is happening in parts of world that Western news agencies not interested in, says journalist

Merve Berker   | 06.04.2021
'Anadolu Agency creates balance in news agency world'

ANKARA

For its 101st anniversary, Anadolu Agency spoke with journalists, researchers, and scholars on how to improve its already fast, effective and reliable flow of news across the world amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The news agency was established on April 6, 1920, by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish Republic's founding father. It operates in 13 languages and provides news to more than 6,000 subscribers from over 100 countries.

Since its founding, Anadolu Agency has worked to disseminate factual news across the globe with confidence, impartiality, professionalism and speed.

Bora Bayraktar, a Turkish journalist, scholar and writer, told Anadolu Agency that "it is very important for Anadolu Agency, even though it cares for parts of the world that Western news agencies are not interested in, that it focuses on different issues and gives importance to field reporting."

"This is also important for more direct, less manipulated news to reach Turkey along with expanding news sources," said Bayraktar.

Asked about the advantages and disadvantages of the COVID-19 outbreak for the agency, Bayraktar emphasized that the pandemic changed the course of everything, including the media.

"In such a process, it is important that Anadolu Agency turns its objective to parts of the world that are not truly reflected among the global public," he said.

"For example, if there were no Anadolu Agency [correspondents] in Libya, we would only be learning what [warlord Khalifa] Haftar's side demonstrated. Also, I wonder how much would be heard if it wasn't for the agency informing the world about the Palestinians' vaccination process?"

"In other words, the world has learned about the issues that needed not to be seen, maybe covered up, through the work of Anadolu Agency, which also benefits the people of the region."

Adaptation to 'speed'

Feryade Tokan Senol, the chairperson of the Journalism Department at Yeditepe University in the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul, also shared her thoughts about the changing global news order.

"First of all, since it completed its institutionalization many years ago, one of the media outlets that will contribute to this change is Anadolu Agency," she said.

"One of the principles of this organization is to get the right news to readers in the right ways, both inside and outside [the country]. In addition, undertaking the leadership of such a change means treating the parties of the news fairly and supporting the freedom to access and disseminate the news.

"I believe that an Anadolu Agency that is ready to deliver fair, accurate and true news will make an important contribution in this regard," said Senol.

Noting that adaptation to this new era is only possible with adaptation to speed, she said, "Anadolu Agency has a significant advantage because it has a high chance of reaching news sources first-hand and its news transmission network is wide."

"On the other hand, there are many channels that reach the news from alternative sources which can be important competitors in terms of speed. Of course, the target audience, which is ready to consume fast transmitted information, especially prefers alternative channels for different reasons," she said.

A good analysis of these reasons and the agency's self-development in this direction means that Anadolu Agency is taking an important step in capturing the attention of those who actively use the internet to get their news.

"The center of the news is moving on the Western axis. Third World countries also contribute to this by including Western news in their news bulletins because there is a serious monopolization.

"But how do these countries allow the West to dominate them? Why do people find information of Western origin more convincing and reliable? I think that should be questioned. It would be appropriate for non-Western countries and institutions that express their role in the news flow to consider this issue," said Senol.

"Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's following statement should not be forgotten: 'The press is the common voice of the nation. The press is a force, a school, a guide in itself, in order for a nation to walk in a common direction whose goal is bliss.' Otherwise, all institutions of Third World countries, including the media outlets, will be obliged to other countries and will be run by them."

Diversity in social media platforms

Turgay Yerlikaya, a Turkish researcher and writer, said, "Anadolu Agency has shown a serious struggle against the manipulations and propaganda that Turkey has been subjected to both inside and outside during the 100-year process since its founding.

"Global news agencies have taken a stance that shows that the West has a monopoly. But Anadolu Agency has largely balanced the asymmetry in the global flow of news and information made by other agencies based abroad," said Yerlikaya.

Recalling that the active position of Anadolu Agency on social media platforms proves its strength, Yerlikaya said: "The agency has both English and Arabic Twitter accounts besides a Turkish one. This shows how strong it is as an actor in ensuring that it accurately and variously transmits information to people who speak those languages but also prevents information pollution that may occur."

"However, that's not enough. I believe that the stream of posts on social media platforms should be a little more diversified," he added.

"For example, the agency should not limit its Twitter accounts to only the Turkish, English and Arabic languages. It should also have Twitter accounts in the Bosnian, Russian and Farsi languages.

"Again, broadcasting podcasts in different languages is also very important, especially in terms of keeping up with digitalization along with the pandemic," he said.

"In the traditional sense, increasing the number of personnel in these regions, making more investments in different regions may again be one of the advantages of the agency in the pandemic process."

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