Space For Rent
Friday, April 1, 2016, Chaitra 18, 1422 BS, Jamadius Sani 22, 1437 Hijri

The importance of intellectual journalism
Published :Friday, 1 April, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 33

Roads and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader is of the opinion that journalism in Bangladesh is falling short of its standards. Media people these days, he believes, are much like politicians in that they do not have enough of a grasp of issues that matter. The minister is not too far wrong and what he says about journalists as well as the practitioners of politics holds much water in our times. For the moment, we will let politicians be and focus instead on those who happen to have taken up journalism as a profession.
A major problem with journalism today is a preoccupation with instant reports. All too often --- and this again has to do with the ubiquity of television --- newsmen are in a huge rush to get ahead of one another in a search for the sensational. Ratings are all. It is a trend which appears to have taken hold of such other media outlets as online journalism. While it is certainly understandable that any organization must be in a fiercely competitive mood in order to stay afloat, it is equally to be noted that an obsession with speed often comes at the expense of well-reasoned opinion. A glaring example here is the manner in which television talk shows are conducted. There are presenters who question their guests with the gusto and knowledge one expects of them. But their number is small and what we have before us are presenters whose very style of questioning participants on their shows betrays a lack of adequate understanding of the subjects before them.
In the 1950s, if not earlier, and all the way to the mid-1970s, there was a certain verve in journalism because of the fact that newsmen in those times made sure that the issues, national as well as global, were on their fingertips. Their broad surveys of the world held many of them up as scholars in the real sense, individuals who were taken seriously by others and especially politicians. In the 1960s, there were bold journalists in what used to be East Pakistan who felt intimidated not at all by the powerful and the influential and that despite the absence of democracy as we know it today. Some of those newsmen were bold enough to put tough questions to such men of power as dictators and even to let them know why and where they were going wrong.
The point here is that when journalists are intellectually powerful and have clear opinions on the issues facing the world, the media world thrives. The reality for us today, however, is that there is somewhat an absence of courage and therefore confidence in many journalists themselves. Ministers and other political elements are as a rule not subjected to grilling when they should be by journalists. Besides, a significant point we cannot overlook here is that journalism goes haywire when political partisanship rather than unadulterated professionalism comes into play. Of course, journalists have political opinions just like people in any other professional field. But the difficulty arises when their political baggage gets the better of their objectivity.
But let there be a caveat here. Journalists today have a whole arsenal of information before them compared to those who came into the profession in earlier times. They only need to master it all and give it their distinctive interpretation. And that comes with a deep study of the issues defining these times.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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