We had the good fortune of connecting with Hilal Bahcetepe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hilal, how do you think about risk?
Putting your name and self out there is a huge risk in general. As a journalist I try my best to use what little platform I have to spread progressive values and highlight people in my community who are making a positive impact. Sometimes I don’t always do that, though. There’s no excuse for problematic coverage, which I’ve contributed to in the past, either due to plain ignorance or not asking tough enough questions, not doing enough research.
One other thing is that when I’m talking to someone on the record, I gotta make sure their safety isn’t at risk. It’s one thing to put your own name and self out there, it’s another to use your voice on behalf of someone else. That could look like deciding whether or not to use a source’s name in a story, even if they consent to it, because people can get lost in the heat of the moment when they’re talking to a reporter, especially when something is so fresh on their mind, that they might not understand how attaching their name to a quote in a publication could affect them in hindsight. It’s my responsibility to choose whether or not bringing exposure to that individual is in their best interest. It’s crucial for marginalized and disadvantaged people to take over the narrative, but to possibly risk that person’s safety or future relations isn’t always worth it.
Another, maybe obvious, risk is that you’re giving people information. Nowadays with social media and misinformation all over the place, it’s a huge responsibility to get to the truth and get the facts straight… and then translate that in a way that’s digestible. That’s a lot of pressure and something I struggle with constantly.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’m kind of all over the place at the moment with trying to figure out what to do next with this journalism thing. Being a journalist today isn’t easy, at least for me, yet it’s probably one of the most important and urgent professions in the world. So the imposter syndrome is real, and so is the pressure to be perfect, which will never happen for me lmao. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that it’s it’s on me to hold myself accountable about what or who I’m going to cover, what angle to take it, and I can’t blame anyone if I fall through on that responsibility. I sort of struggle with reminding myself that it’s okay to not know, and asking for help or support when you need it doesn’t invalidate your capability. One thing I’m proud of is my adaptability, social and political justice can be incorporated into everything, from the cannabis industry to arts and culture, it just takes some extra time and digging.
I thought journalism was easy in the beginning when I was covering events and doing mostly features/profiles for internships, then I started doing it as a full time freelance thing, and the burn out is real right now! It’s also become a lot harder once I started reporting on heavier stories that require a lot more time and thorough digging.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d never tell anyone my secrets, especially with the hidden gems here! But we’d have to stop by Pete’s University Park Cafe because it’s wholesome family vibes and they have the best chef’s special. I’ll keep everything else hush hush because I’m a snobby local gatekeeper 😀
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have so much gratitude for every publication that took a chance on me and continue to work with me, and so much love to my friends and family that continue to support me!
All photos taken by Hilal Bahcetepe or friends.