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Dhaka Tribune

20 questions for Mahfuz Anam

Update : 13 Feb 2016, 07:30 PM

Mahfuz Anam, you have admitted your mistake after eight years. But hearing what you had to say on a television talk-show last week and reading what has been published and re-published in your newspaper since then, as a journalist, I couldn’t help but want answers to the following questions:

1. Why did you take eight years to admit your mistake? If you had realised it then, why did you not admit it immediately?

2. If you did not have to face fact-based questions in the talk-show, would you have mentioned your mistake? In the beginning, you were losing your temper. You said no one would be able to go back home by raising unsubstantiated allegations on television. They would have to give proof. When proof was presented, you first tried to avoid them, and having failed at that, you admitted your mistake. Why?

3. Was it a mistake? Or did you do it knowingly? Do you have any supporting evidence? How could a respected editor of your stature keep silent after having made such a grave error?

4. Who put pressure on you to publish the news without confirmation about the information? You said DGFI supplied you the information on Sheikh Hasina. Did they pressure you into publishing? Or did you publish them enthusiastically of your own accord?

5. You yourself said that Nurul Kabir’s newspaper New Age did not publish those reports. So, wasn’t there pressure on him as well?

6. You have thanked Nurul Kabir for this. Why could you not get that appreciation yourself? Or was there a bigger reward for you than a mere “thank you,” for which you published those reports?

7. There is scope to withdraw wrong reports. There are many examples of this in the world. You have admitted your mistake after eight years, but have not withdrawn those reports. So, will you withdraw those reports now even though it is late?

8. Can anyone avoid responsibility just by admitting mistakes? How would you compensate those who have been adversely affected by those wrong reports?

9. Are you sure that you will not repeat such mistakes, even during favourable or unfavourable situations?

10. Do you think that an organisation’s journalistic objectivity and truthfulness is safe in the hands of an editor who himself has broken journalistic regulations, defames anyone, and publishes wrong information?

11. While defending yourself in the talk-show, you said several times that “many other newspapers have published those reports.” Does it mean that a wrong thing becomes right if everyone does it?

12. What steps would you take to protect your organisation from yellow journalism? Could you be honest, brave, and liberal enough to step down, accepting your responsibility?

13. If I were an employee of your organisation and did the same thing you had done, would you have let me keep my job?

14. We are used to calling politicians corrupt. Is there any difference between immoral journalism and corruption?

15. Despite making mistakes, trying to stay on in your post (by republishing old stories) -- isn’t that behaving like someone who is not sorry for what he did?

16. Have you stopped publishing news reports fed to you by agencies?

17. You published similar unreliable reports on Khaleda Zia during 1/11. Will you apologise for those as well? Or will you wait until BNP comes to power?

18. How many such “fed” stories did you publish during 1/11? Will you publish a list of them?

19. You said many media houses had published those reports. This is a sweeping comment. Instead of talking that way, will you publish a list of those news organisations?

20. Mass media does not run on the whims of the editor, it runs according to a set of journalistic rules. Did none of your policy-makers object when you decided to publish those stories? 

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