'Self-censorship' of the media


Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia at a programme of the Crime Reporters' Association of Bangladesh (CRAB) recently said journalists should practice a self-censorship while deciding what they should broadcast or publish and how much they should share with the public.

In a democratic society, the press should be free and independent. The government should not take any step that curbs the media's freedom. From a citizen's perspective, imposing self-censorship on the media is very distasteful. It is even worse when a journalist practices self-censorship.

It certainly results in the people losing their trust in the media. But it is the trust of the people that is the main guiding force, because they serve the people by providing them with accurate information. So, a journalist practicing self-censorship is as dangerous as the government imposing self-censorship on the media.

The media is a self-regulated profession since it has to be free to serve democracy the best. Self-regulation is the opposite of self-censorship. The journalists formulate their own code in the light of the constitution and tries to adhere to that maintain the best ethical practices. Self-regulation comes naturally, but self-censorship is related to fear and pressure.

Bangladesh's media has been going through a difficult time. The ICT Act and the Digital Security Act have created a sense of fear among the journalists while some quarters have grown increasingly intolerable to the media and its freedom. We see that reflecting on our media and on social media as well. And when the commissioner says something like that, it spells bad news for the journalists.

It is true that at times journalists could not maintain the best practices while broadcasting some incidents or publishing some photos. They need to be more careful to this end. However, this is a matter of the media houses and their management. And it is certainly not the business of the DMP commissioner.

We wonder how decent a comment it was by the DMP commissioner. We expect the law enforcement and the other government entities to help the media serve the people's right to information.

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