Special Anniversary Issue
Dreamers and Doers and Everything in Between
FOR those without dreams, there is no difference between life and death. But, then again, running after too many dreams at the same time is not worthwhile. People who dream a lot tend to be a bit 'beyond' reality. These people often find no means to realize their dreams, but the death of a dream seldom kills the dreamer, and after some time passes, a new dream takes shape. Star Insight was one of my many dreams. The Editor of the Daily Star, Mahfuz Anam, is such a personality who not only has the capacity of dreaming about new heights for the organization in his command, but also the capacity to share someone else's dream and to allow it to take flight. And Star Insight is one of the end results.
Once the Editor gave the go-ahead to think about the concept can be materialized, we started to think how to create a distinct character for Star Insight. The concept was simple in theory, which is to create a platform for news and stories from all over Bangladesh, with a specific concentration on rural activities, but in reality, its organization was extremely difficult. Being part of a national English daily, and the leading one at that, there were both advantages and pitfalls. The Daily Star has gone through many reiterations over the year, through which the newspaper has evolved into what it is today. Whenever one thinks about covering Bangladesh in general, but the medium to do it in is English, the terms of engagement becomes difficult because of the obvious barrier in communication.
People in Bangladesh, the masses, often relate to English with fear. Given the opportunity, they shy away from it. The flow of thought itself is hindered for the average Bangladeshi when he or she tries to communicate in English. Because of this, and given that the human resources available in the beginning was anything but adequate, it was a daunting task to collect enough quality articles to make Star Insight a worthwhile publication, and it still is. Now and then, it happens that we let a few stories get through by lowering the screening standards, and we may not always be a hundred percent satisfied. Quality of writers is always a challenge, and the fact that it is very difficult to retain good writers in the long-run makes it even more difficult to strictly adhere to a predefined set of quality standards. First of all, internal team members realize that Star Insight is not the most glamourous of publications and therefore only those that have an innate love for Star Insight will stay on to work for its betterment for the long-run. Meaning that staffing for Star Insight is one of the hardest tasks that I have had to deal with over the years. But, in this respect, I consider Star Insight to be lucky, since it has, for the larger part, had the privilege of good writers and sub-editors. I applaud all the people I have worked with over the years who have contributed immensely to improving the magazine.
Many of these people, in spite of their love for Star Insight, have had to leave in lieu of better opportunities which they could not ignore.
And there really isn't much to do in such circumstances. One such writer and sub-editor is Zahidul Naim Zakaria, who has been working with Star Insight since the very beginning. He was an important resource, and although he is not going to continue as a full-timer, I expect that he will remain a part of the team wherever he is. When staff writers who have been around for a few years cannot be retained, and another writer replaces him or her, the Editor-in-charge's responsibility increases multiple folds. Because it takes time for a new person to settle in, understand the character of the publication and tune him to it. And by the time this happens, he or she may already be ready to move on. Such has become the very nature of the newspaper industry.
I find it really encouraging that my colleagues, all of whom face the same staffing issues, have been continuing to perform with flying colours for decades. Such as Aasha Mehreen Amin, the Editor, the Star (weekend magazine), who has been working and improving her magazine from the very beginning. I wonder if there exists another such example in Bangladesh; I must say that she is a wonderful leader who has been able to tackle all difficulties gracefully.
I must say that I am a big fan of Star Lifestyle! It is a publication worth feeling jealous about! I sometimes wonder if I would be able to make the publication such an attractive one or not if I was its head. In the wide array of lifestyle-related publications in Dhaka, without the shadow of a doubt, Star Lifestyle leads the pack. I congratulate Raffat Binte Rashid, the Editor, Star Lifestyle, for her enormous achievement.
Why do I mention Aasha, and Raffat in particular? It is not there are not others doing commendable work with The Daily Star. Working in neighbouring cubicles, I have been seeing them regularly for quite a few years now, and besides being remarkable in their own right, I see in them qualities that I aspire to have Their patience and perseverance, their ability to remain unfazed in the toughest of situations, reminds me of my own shortcomings at times. I sometimes wonder if I will be able to persist as much as they have done.
I must attest to the contribution of those who have made Insight possible throughout the years, such as our regular contributors from all over the country, Saba El Kabir, Zahidul Naim Zakaria, Sumon Wahed and Saidur Rahman Shoyeb. Saba is not only guarding Star Insight's publication with his overbearing stature, but he is also looking after Celebrating Life and other activities with utmost sincerity. These people are the strength of Star Insight, without them, the magazine would not be possible. Star Insight will also always remember the contributions of Shaheen Kabir and Abak Hussain for their contributions in the magazine's early years.
When parts of a newspaper are so rich, vibrant and awe inspiring, it's immensely difficult to even attempt to beat. The newspaper industry is characterized not by hefty investment alone, but more so by the right minds who work behind the scene in uplifting the quality of journalism embedded within it. Will Star Insight remain the same as it has over the years? Insight is changing, in fact, it has been going through a transformation for some time now, and its new outlook, illustrations and stories will be released very soon. Star Insight will grow with time, and its ongoing transformation is imperative to reflect the needs of current times. Star Insight's tagline will forever be "Know Bangladesh Better", and I hope its new form and structure will enable its reading to truly know Bangladesh better.
At Star Insight, we try to give a voice to the voiceless, to tell the tales of the unsung heroes of society. For this anniversary issue, we are picking out the stories some of those who, however quietly, have been making their mark in society at large, and doing their bit in making it better.
Rafi Hossain, Editor In-Charge, Star Insight
(R) thedailystar.net 2009