Creative capacity is the hallmark of a columnist because if it is not there, then he cannot make columns interesting, and hence cannot guide readers.
by Anwar A. Khan
( July 12, 2017, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) All developing countries face myriad issues on a day-to-day, short and long-term basis, and Bangladesh is no exception. The media is to pursue with an open mind, and a journalistic ethos that is not merely investigative but is thorough, consistent and transparent. The function of journalism is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true journalism. Syed Badrul Ahsan (SBA) is an eminent senior journalist and columnist of Bangladesh. The noted columnist previously was Executive Editor at the Daily Star and Associate Editor at the Daily Observer. He did his Masters in 1979 on English Literature from Dhaka University. He served as a lecturer in English at Notre Dame College from 1982 to 1985. He started his journalistic career at the New Nation in the early 1980s, he moved to other newspapers, among which were the Morning Sun, the Bangladesh Observer, the Independent, News Today and New Age. He is now at The Asian Age as its Associate Editor. He is also a columnist with www.bdnews24.com, a reputed online internet Newspaper of Bangladesh.
He is based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also an author, political commentator, and a literary critic, and has had a three-year stint as a senior diplomat of Bangladesh to UK. SBA is by heart a journalist par excellence in English journalism. To him journalism is what was said by Joseph Pulitzer: “I am deeply interested in the progress and elevation of journalism, having spent my life in that profession, regarding it as a noble profession and one of unequalled importance for its influence upon the minds and morals of the people.”
We are living in a time when obituaries are being written for newspapers every day. Opinion writing is growing rapidly in the Newspapers like never before. There are many great columnists in the country. The essential quality for a great column is storytelling, the ability to entertain as well as educate. This is to turn or place at an angle toward the stylists who combine the urgency of news with the precision of poetry, writing history in the present tense. So take it with a grain of salt, as an appreciation, the start of a conversation. Columnist SBA covers his columns with a seasoned storyteller’s eye that recalls the classic correspondents of our times. The makers versus takers narrative drive much of his columns. His every time spurs heartfelt columns arise intense interest in the readers’ thoughtful minds. His first page commentary is also in rare form all year, but his close-focus story and his kindness resonate in an otherwise news cycle. His every column can be considered as a masterpiece.
With his natural charm, wit, and intelligence, he is made for it, but he only concentrates on human value-driven big bucks when he is finally done with his columns. In an age of extravagant exaggeration, the term “larger than life” gets kicked around a lot. Badrul is the original and the best in that regard. His legend has reached down to the readers and journalists who have come in his wake. He is a living giant, a very, very, very erudite man. He has that gift of winning people over and impressing them and he uses it to a great effect. He is a person of great humanity and intelligence who actually are making a massive contribution to journalism in this country. There is a kindness and intelligence to him and that’s why, he is so different in so many ways.
He is an amazing friend, colleague, and intellectual who has made an indelible impression on everybody he works and has been working with. He is an astute, a tremendous and insightful senior journalist and columnist. He is extraordinarily intelligent. He works from instinct. Anybody around him who knows him knows how formidable he is when he puts his mind to it to get things done. His record speaks for itself. He really does believe in the State, our glorious Liberation War, its true spirit and he loves this country passionately.
Journalism without a moral position is impossible. Every journalist is a moralist. It is absolutely unavoidable. A journalist is someone who looks at the world and the way it works, someone who takes a close look at things every day and reports what he sees, someone who represents the world, the event, for others.
Badrul Ahsan is best known for his work in the journalistic sphere; it is his deep personal commitment to the cause of Bangladesh’s true spirit and he has brought his vast experience to bear in support of the newspaper industry. He is for rigorous consistency and ethical orientation which he has stood for over the years. He is a world-class scholar. The demonstration of passion for advancing the cause of value-based society has been a way of life for him for close to four decades. He strongly believes that the importance of public administration lies in its critical role in ensuring effective implementation of government policies and programmes. When there is a weak capacity in public administration, delivery of services is largely unsatisfactory.
He is a strong advocate of : corruption hates transparency. Transparency and accountability help to reduce corruption. Badrul is a prolific writer in English and has written many columns, poems, critical essays in rich English which deserve high commendation by the readers. His columns ask us to look back in order to look forward. His story, in these many telling, becomes exemplary. His peroration perfectly Pericles “for goodness sake, don’t letting the audience dosing-off.” His fountain of knowledge is indelible as the country moves towards critical political time where conflicting issues, fragmented interests and competing sentiments have become the trend. He has managed to stay away from controversies and live above parochial interests.
He has become a celebrity but never behaves like one. He is a very nice person both on the personal level and in the world of journalism. We should be most proud of him. We hope that readers would recognise the immense good carries out every day by respectable, modest, diligent, compassionate like SBA. It would just be nice once in a while to realise how good he has it, when you have it. Like C. S. Lewis, we wish to say:” You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others. Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later. “In the English language, it all comes down to this: Twenty-six letters, when combined correctly, can create magic. Twenty-six letters form the foundation of a free, informed society” -― John Grogan’s very words are true to the case of Syed Badrul Ahsan. Journalism is literature. Being a columnist is as much a diagnosis as a job description. Mark Twain is absolutely correct when he said :”In the real world, nothing happens at the right place at the right time. It is the job of journalists and historians to correct that.”
Journalism without a moral position is impossible. Every journalist is a moralist. It is absolutely unavoidable. A journalist is someone who looks at the world and the way it works, someone who takes a close look at things every day and reports what he sees, someone who represents the world, the event, for others. He cannot do his work without judging what he sees. Badrul first sees the inner meaning of any subject-matter, only then he uses his keen edged pen. A columnist must possess some qualities at the personal level, as these are essential for him to be known as a better individual as well. He must possess certain qualities, which are a must for any professional journalist or a columnist.
A columnist is to be well-read and educated. It is deemed so because he will understand the changing times, and will be able to make readers comprehend too. It is also important for him to having knowledge of the related fields for which he is writing. Reading is a must for everyone, but for a columnist, reading of almost all subjects is a necessity because knowing everything around him and mastering one can do. One subject, he must know it thoroughly because a columnist acts as a preacher-cum-opinion maker; hence he must know things to put them in a proper perspective. He should be well-versed in language. A columnist has to play with words to create humour, situation, criticism, argument and conclusion. So it is very important for a writer to present ideas in better language. For columnists, it is a must that they write in the best language; in rich language like Badrul. The columnists move around and look at the society besides seeing through the news to get insight. Moreover, they are also looking for a scoop and think and probe like a reporter, while analysing things like a columnist. He must have complete knowledge about laws and ethics of journalism. Huge responsibilities are on a columnist’s shoulders, when he is writing. He knows the laws, and keeps journalistic ethics in mind besides never relegating the editorial policy to redundancy.
Creative capacity is the hallmark of a columnist because if it is not there, then he cannot make columns interesting, and hence cannot guide readers. A columnist must work hard besides earnestly using brain and argument. He must know how to keep his readership intact. He must look for new subjects because he does not want that his readers get bored with the ideas often written about. A columnist never plays in the hands of the corrupt elements, and he always keeps his honesty and integrity unscathed. Syed Badrul Ahsan does have that much of those essential qualities. His word is his bond. He is a humble, kind, generous and courageous, and patriotic journalist. We ask for God’s blessings and comfort for him all the while. May he find the courage and strength to move forward in peace and confidence. Lead the right path that others will follow, live a good life worthy of example. Long live Syed Badrul Ahsan in good health and in good spirits. We wish he receives many prestigious international awards for his great contributions to journalism for long.