12/02/2015 15:23 08/02/2015 10:52
COX’SBAZAR: THE CITY OF NEWSPAPERS
There is no denying the fact that Cox’sBazar is one of the most important cities in Bangladesh in many respects. Apart from being the most favourite resort in the country for tourists from both home and abroad, Cox’sBazar has continued to make significant contributions to the national economy in terms of the natural resources including sea fish and crude salt.Cox’sBazar boasts, and rightly so, of the world’s longest unbroken beach that holds out immense attraction and fascination to anyone coming down to it every now and then at their sweet will. Named originally after the great soul Captain Hiram Cox, Cox’sBazar has fondly been called the “Capital of Tourism” over the decades. But now-a-days, there seems to be a little twist to the nomenclature. How? Let’s see.
One might not now be surprised to hear people calling Cox’sBazar the “City of Newspapers”. The reason is obvious. Compared to the number of population of the whole district of Cox’sBazar, the number of vernacular dailies published from Cox’sBazar is too high. There are now exactly one and a half dozens of dailies with the first ever English language newspaper The Daily Tourist included.
This state of affairs with the publication of the local newspapers steadily on the increase has, according to a section of the readers plus journalists, got its own merits and demerits. It would be, as matter of principle, better to explore the merits first and then the demerits, if there is any at all.
The publication of that many dailies means, for one thing, additional employment or career opportunities. This is so because each of the dailies is required by necessity to recruit competent people to carry out different day to day responsibilities pertaining to the dailies. On the other hand, the high number of dailies you have in circulation, the more you cover your areas of interest. That simply implies that there will be more and more reports or items touching upon various aspects of life here in this part of the country which in turn would make it easier for those concerned to address the challenges and crises. Besides, more newspapers beget more readers. Hence, the increase in the number of dailies helps more of the reading public make informed choices or decisions.
As things stand as of now, one might argue that the merits of having so high a number of dailies in an area with the lowest of the national literacy rate are far more overshadowed by the demerits thereof. And again, the reasons are too many to be listed here. A few of them may be incompetence, professional misconduct and total disregard for public interest. All you need to do in a bid to grasp the incompetence of those tasked with reporting and editing items is to have a brief look at the headlines and treatment of news. While the headlines and news items of the local dailies are full of spelling mistakes and the wrong use of the words or terms, editing also is awfully poor. The sub-editors and at times the editors themselves have demonstrated little expertise in terms of treatment of news. On top of that, most of the reporters or journalists working for the local dailies are unpaid workers. As a result, they are found doing what they do. They indulge in extortion. They are always on the lookout for earning kick-backs, no matter whatever it takes-be it self-esteem, personal safety and dignity or professional integrity etc. By doing so, they not only tarnish the image of the noble profession of journalism but also distort facts the other way round. Another burning issue with the local journalists is that they frequently resort to character assassination of their targets in order to extract some cash.
Moreover, they care very little about the ethical, sometimes even the legal aspects of journalism. The way the local newspapers recruit people for the purposes of reporting and editing doesn’t also inspire confidence. At present, any layman wishing to join the press can make it. That reportedly prompted one of the former Deputy Commissioners of Cox’sBazar to remark that almost half the population of the District of Cox’sBazar is journalists. There is a proverbial saying that journalists are made and not born. True as it is, you can’t pick every other man up from the street to be made into a fine journalist the next day. There should be some set criterion for selection or recruitment of manpower possessing the minimum educational qualifications, orientation and dedication to the noble cause of journalism.
It won’t, some do believe, be an exaggeration to say that there exists much confusion and chaos in the realm of local journos of Cox’sBazar. The sooner you make all out efforts to get back on track, the better for all concerned. Then and only then, we all would be in a position to feel proud of Cox’sBazar as the “City of Newspapers”.
Let’s rejoice, in the meantime, over the prospect that better days will come again.
Mohammed Shahjahan: An Advocate practising at the District and Sessions Judge’s Court, Cox’sBazar.
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