Sad demise of the Bangladesh Observer
WITH the closure of the Bangladesh Observer, the curtain has been brought down on an institution that introduced English journalism in the country some six decades ago. The paper had sunk into atrophy due to a long-drawn dispute between its owners and the employees. The journalists and other employees of the paper remained unpaid for long 11 years. Finally, an order from the High Court expedited the demise of the paper through partial payment of salaries and other dues to its employees.
The shutting down of The Bangladesh Observer marks the end of an era of journalism that was known for its ideology, commitment and ethics. The people once looked up to the columns and editorials of the paper for guidance. The Bangladesh Observer, for example, earned recognition even beyond the national boundary for the quality of its news reports, editorials and columns. In the great Language Movement of 1952, too, the newspaper took a strong stance in favour of the student community's demand to declare Bengali a state language. The paper's first editor Abdus Salam was highly regarded in every social circle not only for his outstanding editorship and scholarship, but also for his personal integrity. But the most important reason for which The Observer should be remembered is the pioneering role it played as a nursing ground for the future journalists of the country. Many of the journalists, who had their first training in The Observer, as it was popularly called for short, did also play the role of a vanguard in establishing other newspapers.
For a couple of decades, largely due to ownership disputes, the paper fell on evil days and became a shadow of its former self. But in all fairness, it must be said that even during its declining phase, it could still hold a section of its dedicated readership. But on the whole, few of general readers missed the paper's presence.
While the demise of the Bangladesh Observer will be saddening news for the journalist community and the industry, mostly for the nostalgic reason, there is another reason for all to regret the loss. That is about the fact that unlike in our neighbouring India and many other countries where centuries old media houses and other institutions still survive, here we have fewer such instances.
Though The Bangladesh Observer had some chance of becoming one, ultimately it got lost in the wilderness.