DISPATCH: Dateline Istanbul Pt 3: Journalism requires "Know Who" as well as Know How
By Danny Schecher
Author of The Crime Of Our Time
Istanbul, Turkey : Journalism is a business of know how--how to write or package a story, how to find information or an angle that can shed new light whatever you are covering. Knowing the craft and practicing its techniques is something you learn, sometimes in school, but often by doing, Your work reflects whatever skills and insights you can muster.
I believe I can be good at what I do, but in my case, on international
Having friends, contacts and cultivating relationships always made the key difference. It always helps to find someone who lives there, who speaks the language, who knows their way around and who can take you into new worlds within the worlds you are trying to navigate.
Maps may help but mentors and mediators who can help you avoid making mistakes and provide the context and background you don't know are indispensable.
Learning the art of networking is crucial. Finding friends with friends is crucial and always makes the difference in fleshing out important stories. This is a way of connecting you to people you would rarely meet on your own.
Know Who often allows you to get insider access:
As I think back on the many trips I have taken overseas, some on assignment, some as a result of invitations and others by choice, it was always that know who factor that made the difference, that showed me places I didn't know existed or made for the most meaningful memories and unexpected adventures.
They gave our work at the company we called Globalvision the essence of what vision we had.
I have been so blessed to build a living rolodex of friendships far more meaningful than the many friend requests I get on Facebook. That may be fun, but it is never the same.
The online world, for me at least, is never like being in the world. Reading about it may be enlightening but doing it is far more personally fulfilling.
Take my most recent sojourn to Istanbul. I had been there twice before years ago, but I had heard how the city--one of the most beautiful in the world had grown while Turkey as a country was booming economically and while the country I live in was in an economic free fall._ Istanbul may now be one of the largest mega cities in the world with an estimated 20 million plus residents.
Also Istanbul is in a country playing a new role in the region by challenging Israel and reaching out to the Arab world, a story that is making waves and making news.