Without proper financial support to media people, free, democratic, ethical and responsible journalism is quite impossible in Bangladesh. Presently media houses are not supporting journalists and thus pushing the potential and committed journalists to corruption. It is time for the media institutions to be careful of the torture and oppression upon the journalists and their own involvement into corruption.
Speakers said it in the seminar on ‘Freedom of Press, Information Right and Peoples Empowerment’ held in observance of the World Press Freedom Day 2008 at Rajshahi University on 03 May. Knowledge centre CCD Bangladesh and Young Journalists Forum for Investigative Reporting (YJFI) jointly organized the seminar at the Deans Complex Auditorium in the campus. Assistant Professor of Mass Communication & Journalism Department of Rajshahi University (RU), Facilitator of YJFI and Advisor of CCD Dulal Chandra Biswas presided over the seminar. Prof Shah Azam Shantonu and Prof Shatil Siraj attended the seminar as discussants. President of YJFI Zohair Ibne Kalim presented article titled “Journalism and its situation in Rajshahi University” in the seminar.
Earlier at 11.00 am, a rally with the same slogan started from Rabindra Kalabhaban of the university. Over two hundred teachers including Chairman of Mass Communication & Journalism Department Prof Md Khademul Islam, Prof Dulal Chandra Biswas, Prof Akter Jahan, Prof Satil Siraj, Prof Mustak Ahmed, students, journalists, members of YJFI and CCD took part in the rally.
Coordinator of Youth Leadership Program of CCD Arafat Ali Siddik presented welcome address in the seminar. University reporter of the daily Sonali Sangbad Abu Sayem Sabu focused aims and objectives of YJFI in the seminar. Among others, RU Correspondent of the Daily Star Abu Kalam Ratan, students of Mass Communication Department Tabiur Rahman, Nahid Tamanna, Amjad Hossain, Kamruzzaman addressed the discussion session. RU Correspondent of the daily Samakal Meherul Hasan conducted the session. RU Correspondent of the daily Jugantor Zohair Ibne Kolim moderated the session. This is the first and largest program on World Press Freedom Day in the history of RU.
Prof Dulal Chandra Biswas said, the rate of labour-deprivation of journalists which they receive from their media houses is terrible and serious. Due to this oppression, journalists are compelled to compromise with the merit and ethics of journalism. Besides that objective journalism will be hard to survive, if threat and pressure of different institutions are not protected. He also said, wherever military rule invaded, a black hand of interference into press occurred simultaneously. For the true press freedom from this oppression, people’s movement and awareness are urgently needed. Mr Biswas said, present media houses treat journalists as their employee. As a result, instead of becoming a social institute, media houses turn into corporate house. He said, not borrowing knowledge from outside, rather we have to produce and practice our own knowledge through our own culture, tradition and history; otherwise no welfare is possible in our society through journalists. According to him, media houses have searched for the corruption and oppression of other communities last three hundred years, now it is time to investigate their own involvement in these offences. It is immensely needed for the sake of welfare of media, society and country.
Prof Shah Azam Shantonu said, many journalists are not financially well and so they can not go into the deep of the news story spending huge money. He urged the media houses to give close attention to the financial support for journalists. Terming the news not only a matter of information exchange, rather as the most popular and entertaining item in the present media, he said, we have to ensure free flow of information and no only journalists, but also the state ought to be careful to ensure free press and free journalism. Therefore, he demanded warding off the Official Secrecy Act and enacting consumers’ rights ordinance of the United Nations in the country.
Prof Satil Siraj said, mass media is an inevitable part of our society, so we have to build up free press for the sake of our social uplift. It is not enough to build up free press; we have also to consider whether it brings any welfare for the people. There is no alternative of free press for social, political, cultural and economic development. Therefore, he raised different issues regarding responsibility of media and media peole to save the press from the aggression of the state, corporate, media giant and oppressors. Mr Siraj also urged the Government to enact the Right to Information Ordinance soon.
In the seminar, President of YJFI Zohair Ibne Kolim presented an article based upon a survey on different approaches of oppression, threat and pressure on journalists and tackling of these obstacles in the situation of press in Rajshahi University. Highlighting some terrible situations and case studies of ournalism, he presented some key findings in the seminar. He said, political pressure and involvement, financial crisis, pressure of media house and social sufferings, terrorism, dangerous situation of financial policy of media houses, media competition, lack of ethics, non-cooperation of the media houses and media people are causing serious threat to journalists. In order to save the media people and media houses from these difficulties and challenges, he called upon the concerned authority to ensure freedom of press right now.