Editors concerned about press freedom

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From left to right, acting editor of Samakal Mustafiz Shafi, editor of Financial Herald Reazuddin Ahmed, editor of Bhorer Kagoj Shyamal Dutta, editor of Daily Star Mahfuz Anam, editor in chief of New Age Nurul Kabir, editor of Dhaka Tribune Zafar Sobhan, editor of Dainik Azadi MA Malek, editor of Bonik Barta Dewan Hanif Mahmud poses for a photo after a discussion on the achievements and challenges of mass media at Cirdap yesterday. Photo: Star

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From left to right, acting editor of Samakal Mustafiz Shafi, editor of Financial Herald Reazuddin Ahmed, editor of Bhorer Kagoj Shyamal Dutta, editor of Daily Star Mahfuz Anam, editor in chief of New Age Nurul Kabir, editor of Dhaka Tribune Zafar Sobhan, editor of Dainik Azadi MA Malek, editor of Bonik Barta Dewan Hanif Mahmud poses for a photo after a discussion on the achievements and challenges of mass media at Cirdap yesterday. Photo: Star

The free press is under assault from many spheres – starting with the legal system, corporate dominance over the media, politicization of journalists, speakers said at an event hosted by Sampadak Parishad yesterday.

“Protecting the interests of any individual or group is not the responsibility of any media,” said Syed Manzoorul Islam, a former professor of English at Dhaka University.

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He was speaking during a discussion titled “50 Years of Bangladesh: Media Achievements and Future Challenges” at the CIRDAP auditorium in the capital.

Manzoorul said newspapers are not legal persons.

Photo: Star

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Photo: Star

Shyamol Dutta, editor-in-chief of Bhorer Kagoj, questioned whether the industrial owners of news houses wanted journalism to flourish.

“They are there to protect their own interests. We have to analyze why the big houses are entering the media industry in the first place,” he said.

Sampadak Parishad Chairman Mahfuz Anam, also editor of the Daily Star, said: “I beg the owners to please understand that this industry is different. You maintain the quality of the products you manufacture. The quality of a newspaper is its credibility.

“Your journalists are not factory workers. They are independent thinkers. Your editors are not just employees. Their job is to defend the public interest,” he said.

Nurul Kabir, editor of the New Age, explained how criticism of the government and its inner workings is now seen as seditious.

“Sedition is anti-state. But now criticizing the government is considered sedition. Submitting to it is tantamount to slavery,” Kabir said.

Speakers said the judiciary should protect the interests of free speech and objective journalism.

Mustafiz Shafi, acting editor of the Daily Samakal, said a law like the Digital Security Act-2018 cannot be accepted in this country.

Noting that justice and the media are constitutionally protected, Mahfuz Anam drew the government’s attention and said, “Please review the laws that hinder freedom of expression.

He asked how many cybercrimes have been stopped with the digital security law. He said a new law must be enacted to protect independent journalism.

Shyamol Dutta and Manzoorul Islam both stressed the need to modernize and activate the Press Council so that it can deal with issues related to journalists.

“It is never desirable for a journalist to go to court to defend the expression of his views in the interest of the country. An active Press Council could be the solution. self-confidence, ”said Manzoorul.

Speakers denounced the politicization of journalists.

“If journalists start to engage in party politics, then that will be a problem,” Manzoorul Islam said. He called for introspection.

He listed several ways in which partisan politics creeps into journalism, resulting in biased opinions.

“Journalists join political parties. There are many opposing journalist associations, which makes it difficult to realize the demands of a unified platform. We have not yet been able to come to a satisfactory decision on the issue. salary board, for example, “the former DU said the professor.

Manzoorul said the achievements of the Bangladeshi newspapers are immense. “When there are formidable limitations, all success is magnified. Even then, there are questions about the objectivity of the newspapers in this country in publishing the truth.”

Virtually joining the meeting, Honorary Professor Sakhawat Ali Khan of the AU Department of Mass Communication and Journalism said there should be no division between journalists.

“Together we must all ensure true democracy. Only then will newspapers survive,” added Sakhawat.

MA Malek, editor of the Daily Azadi, said the main challenge for newspapers is to retain audiences at a time when independent journalism is under threat.

Zafar Sobhan, editor of the Dhaka Tribune, said the newspaper industry faces two types of challenges. “Freedom of expression is very limited and such a period has not been seen in the past,” he said.

Senior journalist Reazuddin Ahmed stressed that a journalist cannot have friends, but the current situation is such that everyone, including the government, is against press freedom.

Matiur Rahman, editor-in-chief of Prothom Alo, was also present on the show, chaired by Mahfuz Anam and directed by Dewan Hanif Mahmud, acting secretary general of Sampadak Parishad.


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