Senol Kazanci, President of the Executive Board and General Director of AA

Senol Kazanci (Anadolu Agency President of the Executive Board and General Director): We believe that news agencies will be more important than ever after this pandemic

Anadolu Agency played an important role in combatting the disinformation and stem the spread of misinformation, according to Senol Kazanci, President of the Executive Board and General Director, who also believes that the pandemic has accelerated the process of digital transformation in the media industry, and announces growth in media production. Read also about AA’s News Academy in the EANA Top Voices Interview below.  

How do you view Anadolu Agency’s role within Turkey during the pandemic?

After health workers, news agencies across the globe were destined to play an important role in combatting the unprecedented situation created by the pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak caused fear and confusion among people because of the large amount of misinformation and unverified news flowing through social media. In this context, we at Anadolu Agency (AA) played an important role in combatting the disinformation and stem the spread of misinformation. Besides broadcasting official statements, medical experts were constantly given space.

For the easy understanding of readers, we released and uploaded Infographics every day, presenting the statistics of the pandemic with facts, figures, and maps. Besides reporting rising infections, deaths, we also gave equal impetus to the number of recoveries. We also focused on increased social solidarity and brought out human stories of people, helping each other at this moment. 

What are the measures taken for the safety of journalists at the AA?

We undertook various measures to protect our employees from day one of the Covid-19 outbreak. First of all, in all major offices, sanitizers with disinfectants were placed on each floor for the staff. All touchable surfaces were continuously cleaned and disinfected by janitors.

Administrative permission was granted to disabled, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, 60 years aged and above employees, and those with chronic diseases such as cancer, heart and organ transplantation, to work from home. Editorial teams who follow the news on the field were given required medical equipment for protection. We started to keep the number of staff minimum at the office. These are all measures taken in the initial days of the pandemic.

What are your business expectations for the next 12 months?

We believe that news agencies will be more important than ever after this pandemic. News agencies always played a key role during challenging times like the present one. This pandemic has highlighted the need to broadcast accurate and reliable news during turbulent times and combat misinformation and disinformation sweeping through social media. During the pandemic, we experienced new advantages for the news agencies; for instance, working remotely contributed to the news production positively and we observed a 2% increase in the news production numbers compared to the numbers before the pandemic. AA will continue its editorial activities in line with the basic principles of journalism and will provide reliable and accurate news to the world in its fight against the pandemic.

What can you tell us about AA’s News Academy and War Journalism Certificate Program?

Anadolu Agency News Academy was established in 2011 and started its first training course in 2012. It was aimed to provide practical and systematic training to journalists related to modern requirements in the changing world environment in the media field. Also, it imparts training in the use of social media by enabling journalists to learn the effective use of technology.

Our objective is to ensure that the people who work or want to work in the media sector are equipped with the knowledge and skills of analytical thinking, problem-solving and possess effective communication skills, news writing techniques, and are adept at modern technology to handle video and photo shooting.

One of the most important programs of our news academy is the War Journalism Certificate Program. This program trains reporters and exposes them to face dangers in extraordinary situations. Within this program, Anadolu Agency offers 26-courses ranging from journalism to personal safety, law of war, first-aid, advanced driving techniques, to survive in water and combat chemical and biological attacks, and also to learn disaster management techniques. Actually, we prepare a reporter for an extraordinary situation.

During the program, participants have to complete 108 hours of study, out of which 62 hours is field training. No AA reporter is sent to any conflict or war zones without undertaking the War Journalism training. This program is also open to international media. Until now, thousands of journalists from dozens of countries have completed the AA’s War Journalism Certificate Program, which is a rare and one of the few of its kind on an international scale.

How do you see the future of media after the pandemics?

We are sure that nothing will be the same for the world after this pandemic. The media industry, especially print media, has been affected gravely during this period. What I believe is that this pandemic has accelerated the process of digital transformation in the media industry.

Like many major news agencies around the world, the AA had been making the required investments to adapt to digitalization and cope up with news challenges. I believe the role of news agencies as major and reliable news sources in the world will be more important and stronger than ever. All types of media companies will strengthen cooperation to overcome existing and future challenges.

Interview by Alexandru Giboi (EANA Secretary General) for the "EANA Top Voices" project.