aladin

Stepping back from Grameen, Yunus and Bangladesh WikiLeaks

January 22, 2011

wikileaks03The 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.

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aladin is Editor Emeritus of bdnews24.com. He can be contacted at www.aladin.me

WARNING: Any unauthorised use or reproduction of bdnews24.com content for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited and constitutes copyright infringement liable to legal action.
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(The opinions expressed below are those of the writer's and do not necessarily reflect that of bdnews24.com. bdnews24.com accepts no responsibility, legal or otherwise, for the accuracy or content of member comments.)
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8 Responses to “ Stepping back from Grameen, Yunus and Bangladesh WikiLeaks ”

  1. Mahmud on August 31, 2013 at 12:05 am

    He is a greedy man whose intention is to earn money not image reputation . He charged interest on loan from poor people up to 41% where as he received this money from advanced country as free of interest or non-refundable.

  2. UAV on January 28, 2011 at 11:46 am

    And Mr Aladin, your way of journalism can only criticise our noble persons and cannot dare to publish positive news regarding microcredit like this: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=171858

    When our politicians are hailed for spreading corruption and the rest of the world knows Bangladesh as one of the most corrupt countries then the only positive thing they know about our country is Dr Yunus. And you people are trying to ruin even that!

  3. Manzur Chowdhury on January 24, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Once the story broke out, many Bangladeshis and I living in the USA felt sad. Not because of the content of the story, but thinking how further our news media can go to achieve their ulterior goal. Almost every one I have discussed with, did not believe the story. Most of them felt it was a politically motivated one.

    There is a saying “Nations unable to respect its heroes will not receive respect from other nations.”

  4. jompesh on January 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Journalism should be in positive direction to help people to know what’s happening around, but with real picture.

  5. syes ali afzal on January 22, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Sounds like bdnews24.com has realised its overdrive and misdirection and hence this thinly-veiled apology. I accept it.

  6. C. T. Karim on January 22, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Dear Mr. aladin/bdnews24.com,

    Interesting to see that bdnews24.com had to engage one of its own for beating the drum in appreciation of the so-called “agenda-setting” investigations against Dr. Yunus/Grameenphone. Sorry to burst your bubble, but no rational person will ever come to grade that particular piece of journalism as objective, impartial, ethical and/or responsible. That news article, I am sure, must have pleased many who already had a prejudiced opinion regarding Dr. Yunus – and yes it also prompted our prime minister to blurt out some gibberish at a press conference, which in the long run did no good to her own image or that of Bangladesh — locally and/or abroad.

    And please do not flatter yourself by comparing the ‘libel campaign’ against Dr. Yunus, with WikiLeaks. The latter leaked authentic documents and let people make up their mind regarding the same. bdnews24.com widely publicised their own ‘perception’ of the documents they had become privy to regarding the NORAD funds. Even the documentary maker has moved away from his stance stating that there was no allegation of ’siphoning’ or ‘corruption’ in his documentary. Such words were the fabrication of bdnews24.com editorial team. Worst part is that instead of acknowledging the mistake, and perhaps reassuring us that similar attempts will be avoided in future, you seem to be very proud of it and somehow consider it to be an achievement.

    Hope some good sense and better judgment will prevail soon.

  7. nrb_watching on January 22, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Also, I thought I would add something good to my karma for the year. So I just wanted to make you aware that narcissism is a disorder and that should be treated through psychotherapy.

    I dare you approve my posting.

  8. nrb_watching on January 22, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Earth to aladin – it’s earth calling, it’s time to come back down to earth. Not only did you not take any responsibility for your snooty journalism but also didn’t bother admitting that such will not repeat in future.

    It’s fine if you want to stand back and take a view from Mars but make sure your writing is grounded on earth. Don’t make up stories about a Nobel Prize winner to tarnish his reputation unless you have concrete evidence to back up your claim.

    Happy New Year

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