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Open letter to Todays Zaman editors

Posted on | May 2, 2011 by imam | No Comments

Open Letter
May 2, 2011

To Today’s Zaman Editors,

I am writing this note in response to the article “Selective Discrimination Against Arts Journalists” by Rumeysa Kiger that appeared on April 16th, 2011*. I personally contacted Rumeysa Kiger and wanted to clarify her points and her accusations.

As xurban_collective, we have operated internationally as an artist group over the past eleven years. We take communication seriously. In addition to exhibition materials and wall text, we produce brochures and posters and share our visual and textual material on the Internet with the public .

In all these years, we encountered countless interview requests from journalists. Unfortunately, the majority of these journalists had no or very little information about contemporary art, and they rarely knew about our practice as an art collective. They directed us various unqualified, careless and often meaningless questions, which ultimately dilute the outcome of our projects instead of helping to unravel it to the public.

We nevertheless gave various interviews to serious reporters in written or oral form and took these moments to reflect upon our practice and benefited from their questions immensely. We sincerely believe in a salient form of journalism that is independent, free from corporate interest and research-based. We highly respect journalist friends who do take their job seriously. Furthermore, we believe that if it wants to have a vibrant visual art scene, Turkey definitely needs good art reporters and art critics prominently featured in the media.

Unfortunately journalism in Turkey is going through very hard times of ethical dissolutions and corruption. Journalists throw themselves at their subjects without the necessary skills or qualification. The most pathologic aspect of this situation is that newspapers and TV channels show little or no editorial integrity and institutional responsibility whatsoever and they directly publish content which has no value other than being cheap gossipy magazine news. Our engagement with these types of culture journalists proves that it is absolutely useless for the public and it is a waste of everybody’s time. For that reason, as a collective, we decided long ago that we first kindly suggest reporters to read our texts, look at the work and then if they have any further questions or request for clarification we would be more than happy to respond to them. However it was rare that they even looked at the works themselves. Can you imagine a reporter interviewing a writer without reading his or her books or poems?

When I contacted Rumeysa Kiger, I clearly explained the aforementioned reasons why we do not want to engage with journalists before they research our work and I undoubtedly rejected her baseless accusations regarding her main points of our “selective discrimination of certain journalists”.

In her response e-mail, she stated that when she approached Guven Incirlioglu for an interview request, she indeed looked at the materials and read the text that we wrote for the exhibition. We saw that there was a misunderstanding and later on Guven directly apologized about his assumptions, and appreciated that his rejection for an interview could have been taken as rude.

In my e-mail, I indicated the fact that she did not contact xurban_collective when she was writing the article, the fact that we did not have any written or verbal comments about Zaman newspapers anywhere, anytime, the fact that she presents herself as a victim while accusing us as discriminating is a symptomatic case of gossipy, magazine journalism that is widespread among journalists in Turkey and has no value for serious cultural writing.

The reason that I personally contacted her is that I wanted to make an attempt to overcome the misunderstanding and wanted to identify the issues about her article and unprofessionalism as a journalist. I suggested that I would be more than happy to respond all her questions when I visit Istanbul at the end of May, something that she declined.

Even though she may be personally ‘wounded’ by Guven’s misinterpretation of her approach to journalism, one would expect that Kiger would show journalistic integrity and would question her stance after we explained our rationale. Her baseless public attacks are proof that her ethical values as a journalist are severely compromised.

The fact that Kiger did not want to see the issues about her journalistic style is indeed saddening. At this moment, I can only hope that journalists from Turkey would not use their columns to frame people for their personal or corporate interests and instead of finger pointing, they would engage in salient research and writing.

Kind Regards,
Hakan Topal
xurban_collective

*Selective discrimination against arts journalists
[ http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?load=detay&newsId=241166&link=241166 ]

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