Vol. 5 Num 733 Tue. June 20, 2006  

PM's advice for journalists
Applicable more for some of her party colleagues
While speaking with a delegation of the newly elected members of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), the prime minister is reported to have called upon journalists to refrain from doing things that might harm national interest and the economy. We are at a loss to comprehend why the PM had to make those exhortations to the journalists who, to the best of our knowledge, have been upholding national interest in their line of duty, even by laying down their lives. And her allusion to harming country's economy confounds us even further since we have no record of a journalist ever doing so. Therefore, to satisfy our curious minds, we would request her to cite one example when and where our national interest or economy has been harmed by the work of a journalist.

We strongly feel, it would have been more befitting if the honourable prime minister had one or two pieces of advice for the lawmakers belonging to her party who have been having a field day of media bashing in the recent past. The attack on journalists by some ruling party members has become a topic of discussion at home and abroad, and that is something that harms our national interest, and dignity. We have appealed to the government through our editorials to take immediate measures against the lawmaker who was responsible for attacking a meeting of senior journalist leaders at Kushtia weeks back. But, unfortunately, it was not taken into cognizance by any government body or ruling party leader. This non-action did not go down well with the journalist community of the country, neither with the media watchers all over the world.

It is accepted by our people that the press in Bangladesh is truthful, vibrant and courageous. The biggest proof of it is the rising circulation of most of the quality newspapers. The mainstream journalists are always ready to take great risks on their lives to project the truth. They have exposed the crimes and criminality of many a high and mighty without any fear or favour, and by doing so have earned their wrath.

We say and have said a lot against all governments of the day, and we intend to steadfastly continue that practice, without apology to anybody. But never have we ever written anything, nor will we ever do, that will harm the country. The tragedy of our politics is that those who win elections think that they have a monopoly on patriotism, and whatever of it is left, is possessed by those who lose the elections. There is no patriotism left for us the poor journalists!