Ansar Ahmed Ullah:
Truth must be spoken, for when truth goes missing or courage shrinks into a cowering image of fear, injustice gets the upper hand said Syed Badrul Ahsan. Syed Badrul Ahsan, Editor in Charge of the Asian Age was making a keynote presentation at online news portal Shottobani’ s second anniversary event titled ‘Journalism in today’s world’ on 6 March held at Queen Mary University of London in association with its Student’s Union.
He said, ‘These are days of exciting journalism. These are times of danger for journalists. Journalism today faces challenges the likes of which it has hardly been confronted with before’. He then went onto give examples of dangers which are inflicted on journalism by outside forces, by forces within and by the states in countries of South Asia, Africa, Gulf, Europe and Americas. He gave an example of Myanmar where the government in which Aung San Suu Kyi holds a seemingly powerful position will do nothing to have two journalists jailed for reporting on atrocities in Rakhine state.
Journalism in our times is fraught with danger. According to Article 19, 78 journalists were killed worldwide and326 were imprisoned by governments on a variety of charges in 2017.
With reference to Bangladesh he said the old glory days of assertive journalistic trade unionism are a thing of the past. The media are divided right down the middle, with large numbers of journalists blurring the distinction between professional responsibilities and political partisanship.
Syed Badrul Ahsan concluded by saying that this was the story, or part of it, of journalism in the world we live in today. Yet, journalists everywhere are trying to enlighten the world with truth and truth must be spoken.
The event was chaired by Abu Musa Hasan, Advisory Editor of Shottobani. Panellists who responded to his paper were Muhammed Abdus Sattar, Editor at Large, Shottobani, Syed Nahas Pasha, Vice President, Commonwealth Journalist Association, Mohammed Emdadul Haque Chowdhury, London Bangla Press Club President, writer & actor Sebastian Dunn, Duncan Bartlett, Editor, Asian Affairs and Ashequn Nabi, Minister (press) from Bangladesh High Commission. They responded to the main presentation by giving their own examples of negative and positive journalism and the problem faced by press & media in the age of social media. This was followed by a Q&A session.
The event was opened by Syed Anas Pasha, Editor in Chief of Shottobani and followed by opening remarks by Ansar Ahmed Ullah, Contributing Editor of Shottobani and Ahmed Mahbub, President, Queen Mary Student’s Union.
Guest of Honour, Saida Muna Tasneem, Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to the UK in her opening remarks sighted Bangladesh’s record on women empowerment and praised Shottobani as a timely news portal in the age of IT technology but also stressed the need to engage with the new generation.
Online Shottobani took its name from the first Bengali newspaper published in Britain on 1 November 1916. The multilingual newspaper, a much needed beacon of hope during tumultuous First World War, covered news in several South Asian languages, including Bengali. Satya Vani, spelt then, illustrated war newspaper was produced by the Eastern Dept of Ministry of Information and printed in the main Indian languages and distributed throughout India, Middle East, North Africa, Far East, and to Indians overseas and Indian troops. The publication was one of a kind as its target market was Indians, which at that time included Bengalis, Pakistanis and Indians, living in Britain.
Sadly, the publication, a pioneer of multilingual and Bengali news, both in Britain and abroad, came to its short end on the 22nd February 1918 with the end of the war. To commemorate the mark of a century since Bengali news first touched the shores of Britain, online news portal Shottobani was launched to prioritise news relating to the Bengali diaspora.