Tuesday August 16, 2022

Farewell, Tito

By Our Correspondent
May 26, 2022

KARACHI: Talat Aslam, known better as Tito, whose decades-long career as a hard-driving journalist made him one of the most prominent media figures in Pakistan, died on Wednesday at his home in Karachi — finally losing a long battle against a chronic illness. He was 67.

Born in Chittagong, he started his career with the Dawn Group and held editorial positions there. Former editor of Dawn’s Herald magazine and since 2004 senior editor of The News International, Talat put a unique stamp on print journalism.

Through and through a newspaper man, Talat had dedicated his life to his journalism. But he was not just a great journalist. In him, many found a wonderful friend, and a man of sharp intellect, high principles, generous heart and most of all immense wit.

Most will remember Talat Aslam as a smiling, lean man — with his signature wild moustache — gentle to the core but never shy of giving those in power a tough time over their suppressive tactics, especially against the media.

Perhaps most younger people and those not in the media would know Talat Aslam better as Twitter’s @titojourno, an account that had a near-cult following, mainly due to the fine balance Talat maintained between serious political analysis and cultural observations — all delivered in witty tweets that would swing from candid punchy one-liners to unapologetic takedowns of power structures that wreak injustice in society. A champion of human rights, Talat spoke softly but was heard loud and clear. He was an ardent advocate of the freedom of expression and of human rights for all in the country and would mince no words when criticizing anyone found violating these core principles. It was through him that many marginalized voices found recognition online. The reactions on Twitter right after news of his death became public are enough of a gauge to see how loved and respected he was both on and offline.

In Talat, younger journalists have lost a mentor who had seen many a journalist through their initial years — offering them gentle advice; story ideas; schooling them on the nuances of reporting on urban life, be it politics or art or culture. Karachi too has lost one of the few who knew the various contradictions that make the city what it is.

Politics, food, music, the arts — Talat could hold forth on all this and more, but was never one to force his opinion on others or make himself the centre of a conversation. As someone who had mentored many big names in journalism today, Talat was not just a good editor but also someone whose presence was comforting and reassuring for those he worked with.

Journalism and the journalist community stand all the poorer today with this immense loss. Talat Aslam’s funeral was held on Wednesday, May 25. Details of the soyem will be released soon.