Pioneer of diplomacy journalism in Turkey dies at age of 93
Prominent Turkish journalist Sami Kohen, who is known as the man “who introduced the foreign news editing to Turkish media,” has died at the age of 93 in Istanbul.
Writing columns on foreign politics for daily Milliyet for 67 years, Kohen, the father of two, was also the holder of “Distinguished Service Award of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” presented by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Oct. 12, 2020.
The pioneering journalist, who was getting treatment at a hospital in Istanbul lately for kidney failure, was born in 1928 in a “mediatic family.” His father, Albert Kohen, who was publishing a French journal “La Boz de Türkiye” (Voice of Turkey) between 1939 and 1949, convinced his son to become a journalist.
Sami Kohen started writing critics in his father’s newspaper and poems in a magazine named “Yavrutürk” (Young Turk) in his teenage.
His first touch with “the foreigners” was in the daily Tan, where he started as an apprentice. As he knew foreign languages, the daily’s board started sending him to conduct interviews with the foreign representatives and expats in Istanbul.
His foreign news career started at daily “Yeni Istanbul” (New Istanbul) in 1950, when he was 22 years old. He was officially declared as “the foreign news desk editor” of the paper.
Making numerous interviews with foreigners living in Istanbul at the time for two years, Kohen then moved to work for “Istanbul Express” newspaper.
However, 1954 was the year that changed his life.
Abdi İpekçi, the editor-in-chief of daily Milliyet, offered him to be the foreign news desk editor and the foreign politics columnist of the newspaper.
“At first, I thought a lot. But then suddenly, I felt that Milliyet was going to be the last stop of my career,” Kohen said about the offer in an interview years ago.
Blazing a trail in Milliyet, Kohen became the first journalist covering a daily foreign news page in a Turkish newspaper.
In his 70-year journalism career, he penned columns for international media organizations like Newsweek, Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian and took tasks at the boards of International Media Institute and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Information Forum.
“I have been following his articles with enthusiasm since the university years when I was a diplomat applicant,” Çavuşoğlu praised him in an award ceremony dedicated to Kohen at the Dolmabahçe Palace in 2020.
“He is not only daily Milliyet’s but all the media’s precious one. We wanted to record our thanks with a historical document. I express my gratitude to him for accepting the award as he does not need our thanks,” the minister said, concluding his speech.
Thanking the minister for the award, Kohen noted, “The award is the most important capstone of my life. I had a mission to enlighten the Turkish public with world events and to promote Turkey to the world. While doing my job, serving Turkey has always pleased me. It is very meaningful for me to see that my works have been appreciated.”
Until today, the “Distinguished Service Award of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs” has been presented to 136 individuals and four juridical people. Çavuşoğlu has given this award to 10 people during his service in the office so far.