Friday, May 28, 2004

better to be ignorant than to be misinformed

Few years back like September 5th, 2000 there was an interview of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh on the world-renowned channel CNN. As we sat in front of television set we watched Riz Khan, one of the renowned journalists of CNN International gave an introduction of Bangladesh and the whole nation was degraded to the whole world.

He started with 1998 flood and the worst part of the flood was broadcasted. Picture of people swimming in floodwater and their distress, poverty were exposed to the full limit for the benefit of the audience. There were also scenes of traffic jams in the Gulistan area and of the growing population. In total, this country of ours was shown as a hellhole not a suitable place for prosperous human being to live in.

While explaining, it was a common expectation of the viewers that other good aspects would also be given touch. But nothing of this ‘sort’ was telecasted. A nation simply cannot survive only with natural calamities until it has some sort of economic activities. We are exporting our commodities worldwide and by years of journey our products are getting quality market. Surprisingly there was not a single word from the interviewer about our economic and industrial activities. CNN known as one of the most neutral tele-media and our expectation was rational. But as a Bangladeshi knowing our country better than the CNN journalist, we must say it was a biased show that does not carry the real image of our country. It is not a possible for human being to travel around the globe but someone can do so via tele media. But now I am confused if truth is suppressed then how we can get the real picture of any nation or country through media while we see the world’s largest media conceals many facts intentionally. We understand about time constrained but when ’98 flood was highlighted then recovery should have been focused. Riz Khan also mentioned that flood of this year was also devastating except capital city. We wonder, from where he got this misinformation!

Every country has it’s own share of natural calamities, flood, cyclones happen and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. The flood of ’98 happened as a result of global weather change. Other countries like India, Australia, Germany and China were also affected by it but they had a quicker recovery because they have the sufficient resources and financial ability to do so. The people of our country suffered the most. Even then we recovered and we survived – although it took us time and hardly anyone died during the four months flood due to starvation and epidemic and those who did - died of natural causes, with 3/4th of the country under water and all of our agriculture resources being stagnant. There were no economic activities for four months, we still had economic growth at the end of the year, the price of the basic food did not vary that much, even day to day vegetables were available in the market. We SURVIVED. All of these facts were completely excluded in the CNN report.

Traffic jam is another thing that happens world wide – not only in our country. We do have a growing population but by labor of the people of this country we get our hard earned foreign currency. I would like to inform CNN that we also have economic activities in our country, we have hundreds of mills, factories and industries where labor toil away to manufacture one single perfect shirt or leather bag or shoe which is to be exported later to the first world countries. In spite of floods, political instabilities and limited resources, our factories still run, our mills still produce and we are still able to supply the order of the goods within the designated time. The country is now self sufficient on food grain. This is a big achievement. We are even exporting rice. No mention was made on this aspect in CNN and they also did not say anything about our natural resources. Mr. Riz Khan just casually tossed in a line about our natural gas reserve and that was about it.

Me, myself an affect of this negative information of the media. Being a businessman, we meet many people from western part of the world, who come to our country for the first time and are surprised that we even have roads in our country. Still they think main means of transport is by boat even in the capital city. ‘All we see or read in the newspaper is either your country is swamped by flood or you are having riots and strikes. It is impossible to imagine that you can get business done here and done on time’ – that is what they say. We tell them that they must be mistaken or they must be joking! But after watching the CNN interview program, we learned where they get their preconceived idea. It’s needless to say the role of media. For least developed countries like us it is very difficult to progress like developed nation as media always being controlled by media-lobbyist countries.

I am not a good TV viewer myself but I like to keep myself in touch with happenings of the world. So I watch CNN, BBC and other news media regularly, presuming it is vast coverage and gives the actual news from all parts of the world. But after watching the scornful exploitation of Bangladesh in front of the entire community, I was furious, to say the least. I think any citizen with a clear conscience of patriotism should be careful to watch CNN again. I too would think of it either as heaven or hell on earth, based on incomplete or partial view they provide with. For my part, I would say, it is better to be ignorant than to be misinformed.


Blogger Laura said...

Hi! Found your blog via Rezwan (Third World View.) The post you have written here is what I am looking for in blogs. Real people telling the real stories. I have a clearer picture of Bangladesh today. So thank you.

May 31, 2004 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger wamy said...

Hi. I am a Bangladeshi and I think you are absolutely right. This problem exists not only in CNN but also in BBC and other world media. I am tired of media's false and biased depiction of this country. What is more concerning is that local media, the most influential ones, constantly cite references from world media on local issues to criticise governments - as if what BBC and CNN tells are the words of Gospel or Qur'an. Amazing, isn't it! This is a new kind of slavery.

May 31, 2004 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger dublingal_ny said...

It's not just Bangladesh, to be fair. Any country off the beaten path of current events is described in terms of whatever events makes the world news (and CNN is a far worse offender than BBC at this). So you have Ireland described as a conservative Catholic nation (very far from the truth these days), Bhutan as a Buddhist paradise, Bangladesh as flood-plagued, various countries as hotbeds of terrorism, etc etc, even though that isn't how we see our homes day to day. In my opinion, the news media are woefully bad at informing people and getting worse - specialist channels like Discovery, National Geographic, etc do a far better job.

June 4, 2004 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Rifat said...

Very very nice post. I liked it. Hope you will continue providing nice posts.

June 12, 2004 at 4:53 AM  
Blogger Fugitive said...


June 13, 2004 at 12:07 AM  

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