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An English Newspaper in Turkey | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Hurriyet Daily News editor-in-chief Murat Yetkin. (Asharq Al-Awsat Photo)

Hurriyet Daily News editor-in-chief Murat Yetkin. (Asharq Al-Awsat Photo)

Hurriyet Daily News editor-in-chief Murat Yetkin. (Asharq Al-Awsat Photo)

Istanbul, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Hurriyet Daily News is considered to be the oldest English-language newspaper in Turkey. It was established in 1961 as a supplement of the widely published Turkish-language newspaper Hurriyet, which was founded in 1948. While the distribution of hard copies of the newspaper is confined mainly to urban areas such as Istanbul and Ankara, the Internet has allowed for a much larger audience. Indeed, new technology allowed the newspaper’s website to become one of the most visited in Europe.

The newspaper is not considered to be in support of or opposition to the government, even though Aydın Doğan—who owns the publication, among several others—is generally known to have a poor relationship with the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to Murat Yetkin, the editor-in-chief of Hurriyet Daily News and author of four books on Turkish politics, in an exclusive interview.

Q: When did you become a journalist?

Murat Yetkin: My career in journalism began in 1980—right after the 1980 military coup in Turkey—when I studying mechanical engineering at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. I worked in almost all parts of the media, such as magazines, newspapers, radios, TV and agencies, for more than 30 years.

Q: Why did you choose to write in English?

Because I can write in English, and that is what my work requires. I still write articles in Turkish for Radikal. The Turkish audience recognizes me as a political commentator who has published four books on internal political affairs, all of which are in Turkish.

Q: Who reads the Hurriyet Daily News?

We have two types of readers, and they have minor differences. The first reads our print edition, which is only distributed in Turkey. The second follows the newspaper on its website. Most of those who read our print edition are diplomats, businessmen and expatriates who speak English and live in Turkey. As for the digital version, its prime readership consists of those who work with Turkey and neighboring countries, such as diplomats, investors, academics and journalists. This is an influential audience that has historical and geographical ties with Turkey and its surrounding countries. We are happy with our readers and we value them.

Q: How do you account for the “bad relationship” between Turks and foreign languages? Is there any progress in this field?

If you mean that not many Turks speak another language, you are probably right. One of the reasons for this is that not enough attention is being paid to the teaching of second and third languages. Also, Turkish grammar differs completely from Western and Middle Eastern languages. We tend to adopt any noun, verb and expression that we like and make it part of the Turkish language, as the grammar lets this happen.

Q: What does it mean to be an English writer in Turkey?

I do not see any reason that should make us different from any other country in the world. There are both advantages and disadvantages.

Q: What are the difficulties faced by Turkish newspapers, like yours, which are published in a foreign language?

We do not use English, or any other [foreign] language, in our daily lives in Turkey; Turkish is the dominant language. As such, there is a lively national media. The Turkish public can get its news in Turkish from television, newspapers, websites and social media. Newspapers that are published in foreign languages, such as Hurriyet Daily News, are generally aimed at readers who use English in their daily lives.

Q: What is your evaluation of the Turkish journalistic experience? Has it been improving or declining since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power?

There were definitely certain areas that the media used to refrain from delving into before the AKP assumed power; now there are different areas. The fact is all governments thus far would like to to see the media on their side, or, at the least, not in opposition to them. That said, journalists must do their job within legal boundaries. Within this legal framework, you must try to keep your readers and audiences informed about what is really going.

Q: What standards do you have at your newspaper? Do they differ from those that use the Turkish languages?

The Turkish language allows for implicit expressions, idioms and abbreviations in journalism. In Hurriyet News Daily, we are committed to international principles of news writing and reporting, since it is published in a global language and addresses a global audience.