Editors of the Past

M Zahidul Haque
I had the opportunity to come in touch with some very reputed newspaper editors of that time. Unfortunately, they are no more with us but their memories and great works still alive in our thoughts and mind. We take lessons from their wisdom and competence in the art of journalism. I would like to remember the names of Editor Obaidul Huq, Editor S M Ali and Editor Mahbubul Alam. All of them were exceptional in their journalistic profession. In this write-up, I would like to remember Editor Mahbubul Alam who served the Independent newspaper of Bangladesh as its Editor for so many years. He had accomplished his marks in many other disciplines including diplomatic assignment. Meanwhile, as an Editor Late Mahbubul Alam was very professional undaunted.
Perhaps one would agree that the editors of the past were bold and fearless in discharging their professional responsibilities. They always struggled to stand by the side of truth and absolute truth. All the editors were independent institutions. Late Editor Mahbubul Alam was well conversant with the actual language of journalism and knew how to present the facts before the public through efficient running of his newspaper. In those days, newspapers were much neutral and Editors used to keep themselves away from any deviation from the code of ethics. Although the editors of the past used to function under the management of newspaper owners usually not from the profession of journalism, they seldom face problem in performing their duties smoothly.
I had a special passion for the art of writing and journalism. I had actually started writing in newspapers from my school days. Earlier in the junior’s page and later emerged as a senior writer. As writing was my passion, I never accept any honorarium for my articles. Some newspapers had given me some honorarium by cheque after the publication of my articles but I had politely returned. Late Editor Mahbubul Alam always encouraged me in my art of writing. In those days, an article was considered for publication mainly on merit. If one could earn the confidence, the editors would pass one’s writings for publication.
I was then more interested in writing to the opinion/ letters column on various public welfare oriented issues. In fact, if one practices the art of objective and truthful journalism, one may experience resistances. The newspapers actually have no legal system to support legal battles. Moreover, the newspapers never shoulder the responsibility for any opinion written by a reader or any other person on whatever human/humanitarian story. But Editors of the past would offer prudent advice to the writer on how to encounter unfavourable attitudes.
Late Editor Mahbubul Alam was a very conscious editor. Once I had to decide to quit writing on some personal grounds. But the Editor made a very encouraging correspondence which I would like to reproduce here.
A Letter from Editor Mahbubul Alam

Independent Editor

Late Mahbubul Alam was a gentleman par excellence. He was a person with a pure heart and great human qualities.
Here I have remembered the greatness of an editor of the past but I hope to write about the editors of the present who are excellent professionals in the art of journalism.
(The writer is a Professor in the Department of Agricultural Extension and Information System, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Dhaka)