Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT (Turkish Radio and Television Corporation) has kicked off a recruitment drive in Pakistan in a bid to lure media professionals for its new English news channel, TRT World -- a channel that aims to rival the likes of Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN.
TRT World, which will offer English news services around the clock, will join 15 others operated by TRT, including an Arabic-language and Kurdish-language channel.
The Express Tribune has come to learn that TRT is currently interviewing Pakistan's top journalist and editors for its new English-language project, TRT World.
A team of senior staff belonging to TRT has set up shop in Islamabad's Marriot hotel to interview and vet candidates. According to a candidate who has been interviewed, the channel is keen on moving a significant number of Pakistani journalists to Istanbul due to the high quality of English speakers in the media industry.
Since English speakers are hard to find in its own country, TRT is recruiting heavily in the Pakistani market. One prospective employee said that they are offering very lucrative salaries with excellent perks.
“Recruiting Pakistani journalists is an innovative idea. Which Pakistani wouldn’t grab the chance to go live and work in Istanbul?” founder and publisher of The Express Tribune Bilal Lakhani said, while commenting on the development.
“That being said, hiring staff from a foreign country might be a challenge because though they might speak English, they certainly won’t know Turkish and won’t be aligned to the cultural norms of a new country,” he added.
Further, Bilal said TRTWorld is also not breaking new ground entirely. “Voice of America recruits Pakistanis to work for its network based in Washington DC,” he said.
“It’s also unclear on how successful a new English language 24 hour news network can be given the competition. Al Jazeera - which has no shortage of funds - has become a running joke in the American broadcast industry for abysmally low viewership despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars,” the founder of The Express Tribune said.
Pakistan already has a number of foreign news organisations with offices here, typically in Islamabad, but what’s interesting is that here TRT wants to hire staff to move to Istanbul.
One candidate, who requested not to be named, said the organisation is primarily looking for candidates around the world with excellent English-language skills who can help reflect global diversity in TRT World's newsrooms and coverage. TRT Recruitment has been reached for comment in this regard.
According to an article published in the Daily Sabah, the broadcaster, under the current Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, expanded its operations in the past decade in line with the government's ambition to become "a soft power" and reach out to a wider audience.
The Istanbul-based channel will have studios in Kuala Lumpur, Washington, DC and London.
TRT Deputy Director-General İbrahim Eren said in an earlier interview with TRT Haber channel that TRT World would offer a different perspective than major news stations such as CNN, Al-Jazeera and the BBC. "It will offer Turkey's point of view on current events. Rather than promoting Turkey, we aim to show the audience how we interpret the current affairs," he said.
“There will be reporters from Asia, the Americas and Europe. Reporters either settled in those locations or sent from the center will present continuous, strong, new, different, original and reliable news and human stories to the viewers,” Eren added in an interview to the Daily Hurriyet.
“We examined the structures of other international news channels, but we haven’t copied any of them. We set the goal of originality for TRT World, with our teams working with this principle. Our studios in Kuala Lumpur, Washington and London are being set up right now. With professional reporters and technical teams to join us from dozens of different countries, TRT World will become a reference all over the world,” he added.