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12th-Feb-2016

Identity of journalists in crisis

By MAINUL HOSEIN

The free press in a democracy being the fourth branch or pillar of the government, there cannot be any democratic government without the free press.The opposite of free press is sycophancy and specialty of sycophancy is not to be sensible. A sensible politician is always cautious against the trap of the hangers-on.The journalists should be responsible and proactive in discharging their professional duty so called upon by President Abdul Hamid while addressing the pressmen and others in the city recently. But at the same time a journalist must call white a white and black a black, the President urged.It is not easy to appreciate that under our democratic Constitution the government means that in functioning of the executive, the parliament and the judiciary they must exercise their separate power separately and yet act in coordination as a full government. No one branch is to undermine the other. The free press, as the fourth branch, is to help keep the other three branches work in harmony for achieving for the people the results of good governance.For the press to be responsible does not mean the press has to be always right. Like everybody else the journalists do make mistakes and reach wrong conclusions.The press freedom is about public interest and the journalists are protected by law and the court if the source of the report is responsible and the opinion expressed is without malice.The journalists do not claim to be angels of truth but they have to be honest to claim that they have no vested interest in dealing with the truth.While publishing anything in a newspaper no editor or journalist can be fully sure of whole truth. That is the difficulty of dealing with public affairs where suppressing the truth comes easy. The usefulness of free press lies in the idea that through a clash of information and counter information truth comes out to serve public interest honestly and rightly.The situation is complicated when a journalist is also an activist of a political party or otherwise harbours political ambition, then his true identity is in crisis. A journalist is not a politician, he corrects the mistakes of the politicians.The President used all the right expressions to be found in the Constitution to justify the guaranteed right of the press freedom. Our Constitution says further that our free expression should be decent. That is to say the political language has to be civilised even when disagreeing.Not only the political leaders and the journalists but every citizen has to behave responsibly. That is the way the larger interest of the people remains safe and protected. The politicians have no divine right to govern to the exclusion of other players in public affairs. Democracy is participatory government and not a government of the politicians for the politicians. Unless they are elected representatives of the people they are usurpers. The country belongs to everybody and everybody is important. A true political leader would have done everything to prevent journalists from becoming activists of party politics while upholding the cause of press freedom. Now the journalists are divided and journalism has weakened. The identity of a journalist is in crisis.If intentions are good, beware of sycophancy.