Volume 4 Issue 20| April 23, 2011|


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Cover Story
From Insight Desk

20 Years of Excellence of
The Daily Star

Rafi Hossain

The branding of the Daily Star remains a mystery to me even after being a member of the Daily Star family for such a long time. Even at rural levels where I have to travel for stories, for the Daily Star Readers' Club and to organize district festivals of 'Celebrating Life' contest, I can feel the Daily Star's overbearing presence. From what I have gathered in my travels, it doesn't even matter who read the paper and who didn't, almost everyone is aware of its existence. Moreover, they are familiar with it has shed light upon on its front page. They believe that what the Daily Star publishes is accurate, that is it fact, that it is truth. This belief, this faith of the readership and beyond, to me, is the most important testament of what the Daily Star has accomplished in the last two decades.

I am even more surprised when people from the villages come to meet me when they hear that I am in town. Who am I? Most of these people don't know my name! But the fact that I work for the Daily Star is enough for them. They come to see me not because I am well known, but simply because I am affiliated with the paper. The villagers, despite being able to read or understand English, were all aware of the prowess of the paper, and they were all eager to meet anyone from the institution so that they can refer to that person in a conversation later. Even our Editor, Mr. Mahfuz Anam, would not believe in my experiences at first. But he was made a believer when he visited a few such places with me and my team. It is no less than a wonder that a person who has never read a single page of the Daily Star, still believes in its power to have an impact. These people are not directly affected by what the Daily Star publishes, yet they know of them and of the messages they spread. People firmly believe that the Daily Star can make people aware about various socioeconomic problems and influence processes that will lead to their solutions.

In many meetings that I have had with rural people, they have always asked for solutions to persistent problems in their communities from the Daily Star. When I told them that the Daily Star can only play the role of a messenger and at best inform others in society of their problems, they were never ready to believe me! They would not believe that the Daily Star does not hold the power to solve their problems. They would shove aside the idea of bringing up the topics to local leaders and politicians, and say that politicians would never heed their words whereas the newspaper would, and thus their problems would be taken care of. And these were the moments that I would find myself in a dilemma. I would start to question myself, “How is it possible that the Daily Star has gained such popularity, and that people have started believing that it not only provides news to the society, but possesses the ability to mend its problems as well?”

I have never personally met Mr. SM Ali, the Founding Editor of the Daily Star, but from what I hear from everyone, who knew him; he was a man of great personality. The journalistic ethics and principles he followed laid the foundation stone for the newspaper. As a person, there could be very few comparable to him as a humanitarian. There could be very few who stood with him on the same level as one that strives for the truth. These are not my words. They are of the ones who had known him, and worked with him. The true nature of a person is what his loved ones and peers make him out to be. I personally feel deprived since I never had the chance to meet him. But I meet his qualities in our current Editor, Mr. Mahfuz Anam. He upholds the same principles that SM Ali lived by and carries on the torch. We have been lucky enough to work under such a charismatic and inspiring individual and to learn from him on a daily basis. As a person, he has never treated anyone with scorn, rather has welcomed everyone and every view with politeness. In his work, I find evidence that even the toughest work can be performed without acting rude to people. Rather, work is more productive when matters are handled in a calm, polite and sober manner. SM Ali had started the journey based on this, and we are witnessing Mahfuz Anam taking the newspaper even further.

The Daily Star has excelled in not only earning the trust of the people through its fearless and independent journalism. It is now a leading Bangladeshi brand. This was possible only through right leadership. The way that our Editor has made sure that each employee is in constant competition with themselves has assured quality throughout. There is no doubt in my mind that Mahfuz Anam will raise the Daily Star's image and stance even further in future years. But, there will come a time when he will have to pass the torch. Whoever that person is, he must be able to represent the same values and ethos of SM Ali and Mahfuz Anam, and carry the organization forward with the acceleration and speed it has assembled so far.


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