Covering breaking news for a wire service like the Associated Press takes a very particular set of skills. You need to be able to gather and analyze information from disparate sources, synthesize it, and then write it clearly and accurately. Fast.
Yalman Onaran spent almost 15 years doing that demanding work for two of the world’s largest news agencies. He covered politics in Turkey, fighting in northern Iraq, and spot news from Libya to Azerbaijan for A.P., before being hired by Bloomberg News as their Turkey bureau chief in 1998.
The move to Bloomberg meant a shift in focus to financial journalism, and Onaran arrived just in time for a major economic crisis in Turkey. In 2006, he moved to New York to cover Wall Street and the investment banking business, where he had a front row seat for the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing financial meltdown.
When you ask Onaran how he ended up at Wooster, he immediately cites a personal connection. As a high school student in Istanbul, he became interested in Wooster because it attracted a large number of international students. After some correspondence with the admissions office, he received a letter saying that Vivian Holliday, a professor of classical studies, was going to be in Turkey and would be happy to meet him and talk about the college.
“We really clicked,” he recalls. “I offered to be her tour guide for a day or two in Istanbul. She met my parents and said I’d be a perfect fit at Wooster, and I felt that if she taught there, it must be a very good school.” The two still stay in touch, and Onaran visits Holliday, now retired, whenever he’s in Wooster.
Onaran double majored in economics and sociology, and his Independent Study, which analyzed whether employee ownership and management reduces social, economic and political inequality within a company, was subsequently published. He wrote for the Voice all four years and “went in and out of every student organization at least once.” After graduating, he earned master’s degrees from Columbia University in journalism and international affairs.
Today, Onaran is a senior writer at Bloomberg Markets magazine, where he has written about the economic challenges facing colleges and universities and profiled Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
“After 15 years doing breaking news every day, it was a bit of an adjustment” making the switch to the longer form and longer lead time of a magazine, “but I like having the luxury to really dig into things and get into areas that are completely new to me,” he says.
“All these years, I’ve used the skills I honed at Wooster…how to think, how to analyze, how to take lots of input, make sense of it, and then explain and communicate it to others.”
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