Transforming the problems faced into possibilities for the future
In recent discussions, many of us have pointed out that mass media is in crisis. It is also being said that, in many media houses, employees are being fired and their arrears are yet to be cleared.
As you all know, my family and I have long been associated with newspapers, and Dainik Ajker Kagoj was a groundbreaking introduction to this industry.
But from personal experience, the one thing that I can say is that even the best media houses have to go through difficult phases. We also had to face the same, but we made sure that all the arrears of the employees were 100% paid off.
However, many try to avoid these responsibilities when they are faced with tough situations -- which is indeed a matter of great sorrow and is entirely condemnable.
Any organization -- be it a media house or anything else -- if not successful, will eventually draw curtains. However, not paying off the debts of the journalists and your associates for that reason is absolutely unacceptable.
In order to protect the rights of journalists, proper application of the existing laws along with the pro-active presence of the state’s highest authorities is necessary.
But if our discussions regarding the sources of this crisis only revolve around mismanagement of a media house and corruption of the journalists, then the definite source of this whole outcome cannot be addressed. In order to actually identify the real factors responsible for the ongoing crisis, there has to be a more intensive structured analysis.
One of the main reasons behind the present financial crisis in Bangladesh’s news industry is as follows:
Today, social media dominates every aspect of the world. Readers now prefer various social media platforms such as Facebook to get their daily dose of news while avoiding the websites (or print) of any given media house. Thus, the number of people using the dedicated website of a media house or buying a newspaper is ever decreasing.
This has resulted in advertisers losing interest to advertise via these platforms. But the readers and the advertisers are ignoring how difficult and costly it is to collect news, and it is the media houses that are completing these vigorous tasks, day and night.
This structural dissonance cannot continue forever.
The hard work of collecting news will be done by one group, and yet, the group that only distributes that will enjoy the lion’s share of the whole profit. It is unjust, and immoral.
If we, as the state and society, actually believe that media is an integral part of democracy, then we definitely need laws which provide media houses a certain cut of the revenue generated by these social media platforms.
This is a global issue. Such proposals are being criticized in developed countries as well. Fulfilling the promise of a Digital Bangladesh, we can definitely take the lead here.
There are, however, questions over the state’s sincerity about the realm of development of the media houses.
On one hand, we have really high tax-VAT-duty regulations on the print industry.
On the other, there exists the controversial Digital Security Act (DSA), which does not protect the fundamental rights of media and news agencies.
The hope for innovative answers to this crisis -- from a country and government which, until now, has failed to address these issues and come up with feasible solutions -- is quite dim.
In the last two decades, the media industry has grown to great lengths, which include different types of media platforms such as TV channels, daily magazines, online media, radio stations, and so on. Social media has forced everyone to think and, among all these different factors and obstacles, we launched Bangla Tribune.
The youth are the backbone of our online newspaper, Bangla Tribune -- as they are not afraid of crisis, and are always up to date, while their thoughts and conscience can light a fire.
I believe no crisis can withstand this power of the youth.
Bangla Tribune is now five years old and, as a media house, it is pretty young.
If someone seeks to know what we have achieved, then, with my eyes closed, I would say there can be no greater achievement than securing the reader’s confidence, and this online newspaper has indeed achieved that.
There are a fair number of online media outlets in the country but Bangla Tribune possesses all the qualities necessary to be recognized as a proper mass media organization.
There are to be radical changes in the mass media sector in the near-future and along with changes will come more opportunities. The Tribune family will keep on progressing with a strong mindset of transforming crisis into possibilities.
Kazi Anis Ahmed is the publisher of Dhaka Tribune and Bangla Tribune.