After a friend, a journalist…

After a friend, a journalist…

Uttering words is sometimes so hard. Saying something after a great journalist, tutor, friend, and indeed confidant, is very painful.

Just a few days before the recent religious holiday of Eid al-Adha during a talk with Savaş Kıratlı, the deputy head of the Ankara Journalists’ Association, I learned that Cevat Taylan had been ill for some time, had been treated at hospital, and would be discharged later that day. Cevat Abi did not answer my telephone, but moments later he called: “Hi Yusuf, my telephone was not with me so I could not answer it in time… How is it going Delikanlı?” Like the late Rauf Denktaş, Cevat Abi calls me “Delikanlı” rather than using my surname - since when I do not recall - probably in acknowledgement that I am most of the time acting in excitement like a “delikanlı,” (that is like a youngster).

“I’m just out of hospital. I’m in perfect condition boy! Do they expect me develop measles like a kiddy? I got a cold, doctors suspected that I might have developed pneumonia. Now I am back at home, in perfect condition…” I knew, however, that he was receiving cancer treatment.

Moments later our conversation turned to Cevat Abi instructing me to be careful about coming developments that he believed would be newsworthy. “Are not you retired?” I joked, but the answer came immediately: “A journalist may be unemployed; he may not be allowed to write or do programs anywhere; but he can never retire. A journalist dies when the time comes.” Journalist Cevat Taylan suffered a stroke and passed away on Sunday night.

When did I first meet Cevat Abi? Was it when he became my editor at the Daily News, months after the 1980 coup? As an editor he not only corrected stories submitted by journalists of all calibers, but it was as if he was a university professor teaching in full patience the tenets and ethics of the profession.

“Never give up” he instructed “search for the truth, the news element. Don’t mix news with opinion. When you grow up and if you have courage, you may find place to write about your opinions. But don’t contaminate news with personal bias!”

It was the same he who explained to the Turks who were the Afghan mujahedeen fighting the Soviets, and also in post-Soviet occupation Afghanistan who were the Taliban and al-Qaeda that tarnished the perception of Islam. It was he who best covered the Balkan tragedy.

I cherish the many trips on which I was honored to work or compete with him.

Goodbye Cevat Abi. Rest in peace