These days, when media is more a public facade of a shrewd business house, blogs have jumped in to fill the void created by media abstinence of business unfriendly news items.
One such business unfriendly news item was the recent incidence involving CTG advisor, business leader Geeteara Safiya Choudhury’s husband and her business house. Writing on this topic puts this blogger in a difficult situation as the persons at the center of this controversy; Mrs. Geeteara Safiya Choudhury and Mr. Nazim Kamran Chowdhury are the parents of fellow blogger and friend Nazim Farhan Chowdhury. But when the evidence gets clearer that there have been attempts from the more powerful side of the conflict to influence/ silence the media, it naturally becomes the responsibility of the bloggers to tell or analyze the story. When conventional media fails to outweigh any friendly influence, a blogger would do injustice to his/her readers if he/she falls through same crack in ethics the conventional media happily fell.
In discussing this story, while bloggers must refrain from pre-judgment and rampant character assassinations (what the mainstream media does day in day out), it may be relevent to point fingers to a comparable news item.
If one is asked to state three facts that lead to humiliating defeat of AL in 2001 election, many will recall similar tenant-landlord incidents involving Awami League leader Abul Hasnat Abdullah and his sons. Media, led by Prothom-Alo-Daily Star led the assault and I don’t recall anyone trying to publish the side of Mr Abul Hasnat Abdullah.
Similarly, we have seen unprecedented character genocide (as a commenter aptly puts it in a different blog) over the last five years by the same activist media. Hardly there was any attempt to engage all the parties involved and try to sort out the real problem. And interestingly as a result of all the one sided reporting/media activism, Mrs Geeteara Safiya Choudhury is an advisor today. And the government Mrs. Geeteara Safiya Choudhury is part of also does not believe in hearing both the sides of the story. We have people from all walks of life including teenage daughters of politicians in jail for indefinite period without any charges. So while we gracefully hear both sides of the story of Mrs. Geeteara Safiya Choudhury, I urge her to practice the same ethics when her government blames every one (not fortunate to be part of her extended family) as corrupt and puts them behind bars until they can prove themselves honest.
Over the last few days it was heartening to watch Nazim Farhan Chowdhury hopping from blog to blog defending his parents and telling his side of the story. This event is another statement of the higher level of scrutiny and pressure the family members of public figures face worldwide.
This reminds me of another son and his dad.
Let me tell you the story of Paban. This story will remind us how intense the public scrutiny a political leaders’ family gets and what proportion of this is done by the media.
Unlike all other politicians or civil society leaders’ sons, Paban didn’t grow up in Gulshan or Banani. Rather he grew up in Armanitola, Manikganj, and Mohammadpur etc. And like many other middle class parents, Khondokar Delwar Hossain also had his share of troubled kids in his younger sons. If one look at the archives of daily star, he/she will find a galore of reporting on Paban. Only in daily Star, close to hundred reporting were made out of two incidences involving Paban. And none of the reporting bothered to publish Paban’s explanation of the story except the casual line that Paban denied all the charges. Despite Paban’s dad was the highest ranked standing committee member of the ruling party Paban was arrested several times and according to this, this, this and this reports, Paban’s bail was rejected by the court at least 5-6 times. All these happened during 4 party government. After his father took the helm of BNP, Paban again came under stricter scrutiny, both by media and by the law enforcement agencies. It is customary of the print media to print the life sketch when some one gets a new appointment. DS had to do the same thing after Delwar was appointed Secretary General of BNP, however, the life sketch focused more on the life sketch of Paban rather that that of Khondokar Delwar Hossain.
Let’s end this note with the hope that in the future, the media will play a balanced role, neither the role they played over Adcomm incident nor the overenthusiastic media trial they lashed out at politicians or their family they don’t like. We look forward towards a society where Mrs. Geeteara Safiya Choudhury will be appreciated for her services and sacrifice for the nation’s service or where there will be no scope to complain against people close to the King of intimidation or torture of a much respected NRB Professor of Economics who decides to return only out of his love for Bangladesh.