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     Volume 4 Issue 74 | December 9, 2005 |

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Two Icons of Journalism

In the space of three weeks we have lost two of the brightest stars in the firmament of journalism. Both of them literally lived all their lives in journalism and died at the height of their careers as journalists. Both of their career span around half-a-century; they have seen it all as journalists: the tumultuous time preceding Bangladesh's birth while in their

early twenties, the subsequent disappointment in the early independent days and military takeover in their thirties, the one and a half-a-decade-long struggle for re-establishing democracy in their forties and fifties and spending their last 12/15 years seeing and certainly suffering as they watched the democratic Bangladesh being engulfed by disillusion and disappointment.

They have not only seen these events but in many ways contributed to, shaped and influenced them. Whatever good the media has can be to a great extent credited to

Enayetullah Khan-unabashedly spoke his mind

these luminous figures. It is their courage, patriotism, secular and democratic values that have nourished and enabled the media to become a bold, patriotic and progressive force.

Enayetullah Khan, the editor of the English daily New Age and chief-editor of weekly Holiday and Shahadat Chowdhury, editor of the weekly 2000 and fortnightly Aandadhara have both left us forever.

Enayetullah Khan, one of the most respected names in the field of English journalism, also died last month, on November 10. Though he became minister and was ambassador to a number of countries, it was journalism that he belonged to.

A brave man who never shied from speaking his mind Khan was unpretentious, and focused in his writing. "Unabashedly opinionated and unreservedly expressive about his views, he was an icon for us who took up journalism as a profession," Mahfuz Anam, editor of The Daily Star, writes in his tribute for Enayetullah Khan.

While he had his political belief he was uncompromising when it came to press freedom and had always been the first to come forward to speak against all sorts of censorship. Unlike many others Khan did not mind taking up clear political stand and expressing them in his weekly write-ups, earning accolades and criticism with both hands.

He was in his late twenties when he became the owner-editor of the weekly Holiday. From the very beginning he surprised his readers by his uncompromising and bold stand against the dictatorship of Pakistan's "Iron Man", Gen. Ayub Khan. He joined our Liberation War and played a leading part, during the initial days of our freedom, in investigating the killings of intellectuals by Pakistani army and their local collaborators. Unfortunately his work remained unfinished.

Khan has been very actively involved in student politics. He also used to be a vocalist, played guitar and harmonium well. He also wrote Bangla very well. He had a great voice and earned laurels in debates and recitation.

Born on May 25, 1939, Enayetullah was the third son of the late Justice Abdul Jabbar Khan, a former speaker of the Pakistan National Assembly.

Having begun his career as a journalist as a cub reporter for the then Pakistan Observer in 1959, Enayetullah Khan founded the weekly Holiday in August 1965, before taking over as editor of the paper in 1966. He founded the daily New Age as its editor and publisher in June 2003.

He was also the editor of the Bangladesh Times during 1975-77.

In his chequered career, Enayetullah Khan also served as a minister in 1977-78 and as ambassador to China, North Korea, Cambodia and Myanmar between 1984-89.

Known for his democratic activism, Enayetullah Khan was at the forefront of the Buddhijibi Nidhan Tathyanusandhan Committee instituted on December 18, 1971 to investigate murders of intellectuals in the terminal days of the War of Independence by the Al-Badr and Al-Shams, the assassination wings of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Enayetullah Khan was also an organiser of the Civil Liberties and Legal Aid Committee and the Famine Resistance Committee in 1974, the Farakka March Committee led by Moulana Bhasani in 1976 and the Committee Against Communalism in 1981.

Enayetullah Khan obtained master's degree in philosophy from Dhaka University. During his student life, he was general secretary of Ananda Mohan College Students Union in Mymensingh, member of the Dhaka University Students Union in 1958-59 and vice-president of Dhaka Hall (now Shahidullah Hall) Students Union in 1959-60.

He was president of the Jatiya Press Club in 1973-76 and the Dhaka Club in 1984-85.
He was 66 when he died.

Like many gifted journalists Shahadat Chowdhury had no professional training in journalism. In fact he studied painting from the Fine Arts Institute. But he always had the itch to write since his school days, when he used to write for newspapers and magazines. And he seemed to be very sure about what he wanted to do after completing his art studies he quickly joined Bichitra and had never left journalism since then. It was 1972.

Over the next three decades Shahadat Chowdhury would turn the weekly magazine into the most influential and popular Bangla news magazine in the country. If one wants a

Shahadat Chowdhury-revolutionising magazine journalism

socio-economical and cultural history of Bangladesh from the 70s through the 90s Bichitra would be a great treasure.

Bichitra was a platform for the movement for a secular and democratic state. The magazine in many ways influenced and shaped the thought pattern of the middle class Bangladeshis. It was not just history recording though, Bichitra always strove to break new grounds. Bichitra used to bring out voluminous especial issues for Eid. Bichitra was also the first magazine to bring in fashion into the mainstream magazine. It also set the trend of writing stories on personalities of different fields. Then there was the special section where expatriates would write about their lives, the concept of a reader's forum was also Bichitra's brainchild.

Bichitra also played a crucial role in promoting young writers. Humayun Ahmed and many other writers have had their pieces published in Bichitra early in their career. Those who worked under his editorship and are now established journalists remember him as a great leader and motivator, who egged them on and brought out the best in them. His friends and colleagues describe him as an engaging talker who had a fairly good knowledge on science, technology, politics, economics, fashion, literature etc.

A creative man Shahadat Chowdhury had a capability to generate and pick up ideas from the most trivial things. He also had an uncanny ability to read the readers' mind. The fact that Bichitra in its good days had more circulation than some established newspapers is a sure proof of that.

Born on July 28 in 1943 in Khulna, Chowdhury completed his matriculation from Dhaka Graduate High School and did his graduation on painting from the Fine Arts Institute.

Chowdhury was an active freedom fighter during the Liberation War in 1971. He was one of the co-ordinators of the guerrilla war against the Pakistan occupation army in Dhaka and a major aide to Sector-2 Commander Khaled Mosharraf.

He edited a magazine named 'Lorai' to depict the successful fights of the guerrillas during the Liberation War where he himself was one of the architects of many operations.

Following the Liberation War, Shahadat Chowdhury chose journalism as his profession.

He joined the weekly Bichitra in 1972 and worked as an assistant editor, acting editor and editor until the government stopped its publication in 1997.

Chowdhury joined the weekly news magazine 'Saptahik 2000' and fortnightly 'Anandodhara' under the management of Media World, which earned widespread popularity among the readers both at home and abroad.

He was 62 when he died.


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