Prominent members including the President of the Editors Council have differed over the contents of the statement issued under the signature of its General Secretary and the Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam on Wednesday night.
The Shamakal Editor Golam Sarwar, President of the Editors Council disagreed with the contents and language of the statement issued by Mahfuz Anam.
Talking to The Daily Observer over telephone from the USA, he said that the statement was issued without his consent and knowledge. "I don't own the statement," he asserted. "I am the President of the Editors Council and how such a statement can go without my knowledge and consent," he regretted.
Meanwhile, the daily Shamokal dropped the statement from its on line edition soon after carrying it on the newspaper's website. "I don't agree with the statement that's why we have withdrawn it," he said.
Contradicting the statement some editors said that the allegations flatly made in the statement were totally fabricated, false and motivated.
Mahfuz Anam by issuing this statement without concurrence of many members of the Editors Council, in fact, utilized the council to attain his ulterior motives. They also raised the question of legitimacy of issuing such a statement by Mahfuz Anam.
They disowned the allegations of government's interference in collection and dissemination of objective news and observed that the allegations were totally a travesty of truth.'
They said as there is a separate body, named Association of Television Channels Owners [ATCO] to look into the interests of satellite televisions, the Editors Council Secretary is not the competent person to raise any demands of electronic media. "Anam has no locus standi to represent the electronic media under the coverage of Editors Council," they said.
The Bangladesh Protidin Editor Naim Nizam, a member of the Editors Council who was present at the meeting told The Daily Observer, "I am surprised to see such a statement where there was no consensus or resolution in the meeting to issue any such statement." Nizam said he protested at the meeting and differed on issuing such statement. He said he along with some editors including the Kaler Kantha Editor, Emdadul Haq Milon came out of the meeting disagreeing with the issuance of any statement whatsoever.
The Bhorer Kagoj Editor Shymol Dutta, also a member of the Editors Council, told this correspondent that although he was not present at the meeting as he was indisposed, he became very much surprised to see the statement.
"I do not agree with the allegations flatly brought in the statement about imposing restrictions on free flow of news by the government. "Such blanket allegations are not objective," he said adding that journalism is a challenging profession all over the world and journalists have to overcome such situations.
"I totally disagree that this government is drastically controlling the media," Dutta said.
He also disowned some allegations brought in the statement about electronic media such as TV talk shows and other programmes. "There is separate body to look into the electronic media's affairs and I think the Editors Council is not the appropriate forum to highlight their problems," he observed.