Senior journalists of the country Tuesday observed that the inability of journalists to remain united is a major failure of their professional community.
Speaking at a meeting organised in memory of Reazuddin Ahmed, a founding member of the Editors Council and former president of the National Press Club, they said the country's journalists today are divided in different ways and opinions.
The commemorative meeting was jointly organised by the Editors' Council and Newspaper Owners' Association of Bangladesh (NOAB) at the National Press Club on Tuesday.
Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, former president of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and editor of the Daily Observer, said, "The most unfortunate thing is that we once took part in movements bearing the flag of a united union of journalists, the flag that was handed over to us by our predecessors like Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia, Abdus Salam, ABM Musa, and Faiz Ahmed. But we failed to hold on to that united front as their successors. It is our failure. Those of us who replaced our predecessors have failed."
Chowdhury said, "During the movement against autocratic Ershad, we stopped publishing newspapers all over the country for six days. Ershad's downfall was hastened by the closure of the newspapers. We have unitedly restored democracy by overthrowing dictatorship, but we failed to remain united. In 1992, we fell divided."
Chowdhury, also a former adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said, "The split among journalists was not due to leadership squabbles. We were divided from a political point of view and we are still divided. This divide has affected the press club also at different times."
He said, "Reaz Bhai was a journalist, and he died as a journalist. He started his professional career as a reporter and rose to being an editor. He participated in the activities of the journalists' union also. He struggled to ensure the livelihoods of journalists and later became a member of the NOAB and the Editors' Council. On the one hand, he led the newspaper owners' organisation, on the other hand he was compassionate about the rights of journalists."
Saiful Alam, former president of the National Press Club and editor of Jugantar, said, "The journalists' union was divided, but Reaz Bhai was a man of journalism, undivided. Difference of opinions might arise, but it cannot increase the distance between people. This is something I have realised from the words and deeds of Reaz Bhai."
He said, "How many journalists can hold their heads high, keep their spines straight today? Reaz Bhai was never defeated in any election. He received the love and support of fellow professionals in all elections. He never became a leader in a secretive manner which is why he was respected by all."
Mozammel Hossain Monju, acting editor of Samakal, said, "We have learned from Reaz Bhai how to solve problems without raising a hue and cry. He held professional values and when it came to journalism, he never let his political outlook interfere with his profession."
BFUJ President Omar Faruque said Reazuddin was a friend of journalists. He was a four-time president of the press club and although the journalists' organisation BFUJ was divided, he never gave priority to political ideology. Rather, he gave priority to the interests of journalists.
Conducted by acting General Secretary of the Editors' Council and also Editor of Banik Barta, Dewan Hanif Mahmud, the commemorative meeting was also addressed by Editor-in-Chief of TV Today, Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul, President of National Press Club Farida Parvin, Noab President AK Azad, and Reazuddin Ahmed's son, Masroor Reaz.