The basic tenets underlying good journalism can never be taken for granted, nor can they be reiterated too often.
Last year bdnews24.com published lead stories relating to Professor Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank’s treasury operations as well as United States government documents on Bangladesh which were released by Wikileaks. The material we sourced was not strictly ‘new’ or recent but we believed shed light on important public, civil processes. These early revelations, during December 2010, touched nerves, ignited public controversy and gained their own momentum, triggering further coverage and analysis elsewhere in the Bangladeshi media as well as abroad. bdnews24.com’s exclusive Wikileaks revelations were followed a few days later by the UK’s Guardian newspaper releasing a cache of further Wikileaks documents on Bangladesh.
bdnews24.com took a strong editorial line in its treatment of the Grameen/Yunus and Wikileaks stories, which some have found close to the bone. bdnews24.com, however, continues to harbour a very wide range of opinions within its own walls and across its reporting team. It represents a lively discourse that will continue to actively transform and shape future coverage — about whose future direction there can therefore be no presumption. Founded on the premise of impartiality, bdnews24.com’s readership expects it to resist dogma and partisanship. So even as it persists with its agenda-setting investigations it will iteratively review its own stances.
This is as good a moment as any to be reminded of the importance of finding time and space to stand back (literally or metaphorically) in the midst of complexity and flux. Doing so allows an opportunity for perspective and for more constructive alternatives to emerge. To remain ‘caught up’ constrains outcomes and limits options for the different parties involved; it can also agonisingly draw out the process of moving towards resolution. Stepping back, though, is not plain sailing; in fact, the more contentious the times the less easy it becomes to arrange that step. Yet the greater the trials the more critical it becomes to reflect, adapt and then move forward again.
In seeking momentary distance and withdrawal from the Grameen/Wikileaks melee, it might be helpful to invoke a Martian perspective. I should briefly mention that this particular Martian has acute qualities of discernment, mapping as s/he does only that which is absent, invisible, outside of the frame. We should speculate then about the picture of Bangladesh that emerges from recent news coverage — in terms of what is missing. The recent Grameen/Yunus and Bangladesh Wikileaks narratives are essentially dystopian — with their litanies of human and institutional shortcomings. What is often absent, due to journalistic convention more than anything else, is validation of the less newsworthy elements of the story — namely operations in the light of day with long histories of rectitude. Whereas for the most part the record of these parties in the public life of Bangladesh is marked by a prosaic commitment to and record of building and shoring up civil processes and rights.
In standing yet further back from the locale of these news reports we begin to note a physical landscape that is bountiful against the odds. We perceive large numbers of inhabitants living side by side according to the rhythms of the seasons rather than the alarums of the anxious. We discover myriad inventors, social innovators, economic and engineering feats not seeking acknowledgement or needing it. Standing back, we also become reminded of how much there is to celebrate, enjoy and feel optimistic and reassured by in terms of the vast majority of individuals, institutions and formal and unmediated processes that make up Bangladesh. These are all elements that must sometimes appear absent from or not particularly discernible in the palette that the media tend to dab their quill pens in. Returning to our enquiring Martian — s/he may feel s/he is missing out on a properly rounded account of place or event were s/he to rely solely on what the media choose to reveal. At bdnews24.com we accept to the core the responsibility of keeping editorial outputs under constant review and remain deeply committed to a balanced approach to populating our pages.
So take a step back at those times you feel bdnews24.com is stumbling or coming up short. You will see us there too — taking a moment to refresh our maps and retune our senses. We will always return to the heart of the fray however. It is a privilege we will never relinquish.