Journalist has limitations; nobody is above the law


Every profession has its limitations and journalism is no different. As social beings journalists have social obligations too. Journalists have social responsibilities and they have to take risk while performing their duties. However, journalists enjoy more facility than the general people in the society  because of the doctrine of their job. 

Judges usually have to think twice or thrice before giving a verdict, and similarly journalists have to think several times before writing a report. If a judge announces a verdict which is unable to affect more than fifty people, it does not deserve to get a news coverage. But when a journalist make or post news it reaches millions of people. 

Hence, before publishing a news, journalists not only have to check the accuracy and authenticity of the news but also they have to carefully scrutinise the impact of their news on the people concerned with the news. So making news is no less important than giving a verdict.

Before making news journalists have to think about the social impact of the news they are making. Journalists, being citizens of the country have to abide by the law of the land. Be a foreign journalists or a local journalist, everyone has to be aware of the rules and regulations of their country as nobody is above the law.

When there are violations of democratic rights, human rights, and the rule of law, journalists must write against the violators. Journalists must maintain objectivity in his or her writing. Falsehood, fabrication, malicious and biased information must not be regarded as news and making news based on conditions is a punishable crime.

Journalists must have the sense to determine news value of information.  Under no circumstances journalists can  provide their thoughts and ideas in news. Giving one's own opinion in the news goes against the ethics  of journalism. 

What journalists can write are the opinions and statement of the concerned people, eye witness and experts. But as a journalist your opinion must not be reflected in your writing and you must be careful about that.

If somebody gives you information, firstly, you have to try to take as much as information you can get.  Then you have to check the accuracy of the given information talking to the people concerned with the information. 

After that you have to make a cross check talking to the other related authorities concerned. You cannot say that 'some people told me' in a news. At best you can say that I have been told by the people who were present at the place of the incident or occurrence.

Neither the political ideology you belong to nor your personal belief would be reflected in your writing. There is an opinion page where you can write opinion pieces and you must have to maintain objectivity while writing op-ed. 

In op-ed section you can put your opinion on particular issues to grab the attention of the authorities concerned so that they can take required action for the greater good of the society and community.

Journalist must be extra causious while making news as they are equipped with extra sharpened weapons. When your weapon is very sharp, you have to keep it in extra protection so that it does not harm any innocent people. That means you have to write a news very carefully so that no innocent people is affected by your news.

One thing you have to maintain  very carefully while writing about your motherland and its relation with the forein nation: you have to act as a competent representative of your country. 

In terms of writing such reports you have to use your words very diplomatically considering  the relationship of your country with the the other country with which your government may have huge obligations. You must be very carefull and particular in terms of choosing words keeping the prestige of both the nations in mind. 

If you want to write something about the hostile nation, you have to follow the policy of the government. Writing against your government means you are starting a war against the government. This is what our senior journalists did against the Pakistani military government which had illegally imposed war against our people. 

Our predecators had fought a tremendous battle when the country was attacked by the Pakistani military. They took their pen and started writing against the enemy with their mighty pen.


Sharif Shahab Uddin is Editor-in-Chief, Bangladesh Post.