Press Club yesterday had arranged a ceremony in honor of Mr. Qazi Junagarhi, a journalist/author, and for Raees Fatima, also an author, columnist and a retired professor, and the life partner of Mr. Qazi. It was during the ceremony that this strange thought came to my mind. The occurrence of this particular thought was due to a reporter who made it clear to me how intelligent are our reporters and the people who hire them.
Asking questions to Raees Fatima, he asked her what this book was about, and which cities had been included in this book of her which is about her travels in India. This particular journalist was only interested in making a news that was to be a part in the newspapers of today. And thus he just kept insisting that she tell him what the entire book is about, which in my opinion he should have bothered to read and then put a news about.In his defense he just kept saying that he is here to make a news item and not to write a critique on the book.
Insistently she finally told her about what she has written giving enough details so that he can make his story for the paper. She told him her vies about the Indian city and then mentioned that it was great going to India for she was also from the city of Allahabad. And then the reporter goes ahead and asks her “But isn’t Allahabad in Bangladesh?”
Allahabad has been a prominent city in our history and it was therefore shocking to me that this reporter from a leading Urdu newspaper didn’t know where Allahabad is. This made me realize that thought the number of newspapers and television channels may have increased but the intellectual levels of our reporters is deteriorating by the day.
Press Club was an exclusive club and a majestic building. Getting membership into the Press Club was an honor. Years of struggles against dictatorship had been conducted from this very Club, namely against Zia-ul-Haq. Journalism and Journalist therefore were not only given respect and honor but were also looked upon in awe. These people not only managed to go out and search for the stories that they wanted but they also found a way to say what they had to.
Minhaj Burna, a prominent name in Urdu Journalism, was a member of this great club, and it was from inside these walls that he had launched a struggle for a press media and press during the Zia regime.
Ex-president Musharraf may claim to have given a lot of freedom to the media and it is true that it was during his tenure that the number of private channels increased threefold. But that is one side of the story. The institutions to carter to this demand haven’t been increased in the same way. And it is maybe that’s why that we have reporters that have no idea even where a prominent city like Allahabad, which not only played a great role in the struggle of Independence but also produced some great writers of our time, existed.
So maybe it is not entirely true to blame the reporters, but then knowledge can not only be found in Institutes.