Volume 4 Issue 20| April 23, 2011|


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MA Salam

Behind the scene

From Moulvibazar

Four Decades of Journalism and counting

It is uncommon to find anyone to have worked in the same place for more than a decade, let alone four. MA Salam in this regard has set the record for rural journalism. With 44 years under his belt, he has been working as a journalist for the 'Daily Sangbad'


Salam bhai, as he is called by everyone he knows, was only 17 when he started his career as a journalist. It was 1967 when he came in contact with the profession working for the then 'Half Weekly Pakistan'. The paper that had been his introduction to the field was regularly published from Dhaka. Even at such a early age, he had turned heads of his peers and superiors. It was at that time that he was also working for the 'Weekly Jugovery' the largest circulating paper in Sylhet, that he was appointed as the Sylhet correspondent for the 'Daily Sangbad' from Dhaka. His prowess would not in any way be limited to the daily paper only. He had been appointed as the Moulvibazar correspondent of the popular media channel 'Channel I' as well, spreading his influence from print to electronic media. He works for both the organizations at present.

MA Salam is the third child to late Suruj Miah and Mosammat Zolika Banu from the Sompashi village of Mostofapur union under the Moulvibazar Sadar Upazila. He graduated from Moulvibazar College, now known as the Government College, after passing his SSC from the Moulvibazar Government High School. He had always been affiliated with politics since his school life. 1968 was the year he had successfully defeated his counterpart from Chhatra League to have secured the position of Assistant General Secretary of the Moulvibazar Central Students' Union. He was backed by the Chhatra Union's panel. Though he is now retired from politics, he still holds interest in the field.

Coming back to his actual profession, Salam bhai has held important roles and designations in journalism. He was elected as the general secretary of Moulvibazar Press Club in 1985. He then had climbed the ladder to its zenith to have been elected the president of the club in 2001. Salam still holds the position as he was re-elected in 2010.

It is said that respect is not given but earned. If this is true, then Salam bhai is truly respected in his community. He is revered not only because he is the senior most journalist in Moulvibazar, but for his commitment towards the job. Even at his age, his dedication is unflinching. He loves his work, if simply put. And he is more than strict on his principles of ideological journalism. His colleagues and juniors all love him, respect him and have nothing but admiration for him. This too is the result of him standing by other journalists, even when they are under attack for their independent journalism. Abdul Hamid Mahbub, another senior journalist from Moulvibazar testified to this. He said, “Salam Bhai is our pride. He always has been, and still is an inspiration to anyone in the profession. Age doesn't matter to him. Salam bhai is a friend, and a true one at that, to any journalist in Moulvibazar as he wishes nothing but the best for them.”

Two other from the profession have voiced the same in different words. Akmol Hussain Nipu- Moulvibazar district correspondent of the leading Bengali daily 'Prothom Alo'- described MA Salam as always dedicated and committed to his profession. Hasanat Kamal- Moulvibazar district correspondent of Bangladesh Television- said “MA Salam is a name of pride, love and affection to the local journalists. No one can give a better lesson on real and true journalism.”

Journalist MA Salam at a public speaking event (wearing black sleeveless sweater)

Star Insight was able to probe into MA Salam's foundation of principles. He still holds onto the teachings given to him by Martyred Shahidul Kayser in the war for liberation. Kayser was the News Editor for the 'Daily Sangbad'. Others who hold top spots as his teachers and mentors were Sattyen Sen, Santosh Gupta, and Ranesh Das. They all had bored into him the skills of report writing along with the ethics of journalism.

Salam commented on the present scene of journalism in contrast with the occupation in his time. He started off by saying, “Even though the pay was never very good, journalists in my time had a sense of responsibility. We never got any financial help, but even then we were sincere in our jobs. Those days are well past! These days the journalists are being paid much better than before, and some even enjoy various other facilities that come with the job. Yet, there remains a lack of professionalism in the field and in the people involved. And thus the quality of journalism has been compromised.” He added to his thoughts by saying, “A real reporter must be honest. And only then can he be brave and retain his commitment.” He continued saying that newspapers in recent years were not verifying the background and character of the one appointed as a correspondent. This has compromised heavily and affected the total environment of journalism. But, he is hopeful of the new generation of young journalists joining the trade to take it to more qualitative and more respectable level.

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