A H M Moazzem Hossain

Requiem for an Editor par excellence

Muhammad Abdul Mazid | Published: September 28, 2018 20:03:05

A H M Moazzem Hossain (January 1, 1948 — August 1, 2018)

A pioneer in the field of economic journalism, a man of exceptional probing mind, a professional journalist with a strong commitment, late Abul Hasanat Mohammad Moazzem Hossain (January 1, 1948 - August 1, 2018) , played a pioneering role in setting up the country's first financial daily. He was  acclaimed as a professional and iconic journalist who performed his duties with honesty, morality and neutrality. Born to the couple late Ayub Ali and late Rezia Khatun, A. H. M Moazzem Hossain was the founder editor, managing director, publisher and part owner of the country's premier specialised financial daily The Financial Express. Since its inception in November, 1993, this newspaper established a different model of newspaper management and made a difference in terms of presentation and policy. A sheer icon of objective journalism, the publication witnessed a track record of steady growth. Much of that success is owed to Mr Hossain, who received his Master's in Economics from Dhaka University in 1968. He was a fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and is regarded as the guru of financial journalism, economic analysis and idea generation in this field.

An unassuming and suave personality, Moazzem Hossain had an uninterrupted 48 years' career in journalism having worked with the Bangladesh Observer, The New Nation, United News of Bangladesh (UNB), Dhaka Courier and The Daily Star to name a few. He contributed analytical write-ups under the pen name Hossain Khasru for the weekly Holiday between 1973 and 1993. This senior journalist was the founder President of Economic Reporters Forum (ERF) and a member of board of trustees of the Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB), a member of the Board of Directors of the Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS), a member of the Board of Directors of Janata Bank for two terms, a director of ICB Securities Trading Company Limited and Bay Leasing & Investment Ltd. He was an avid traveller. He got candid with IBT and shared about the ups and downs of financial journalism in Bangladesh.

Though he had taken up journalism as a career, his academic background was in Economics, which had helped him throughout the journey. He had a stint in research on banking and economic sectors. As a fellow colleague in the Janata Bank Board we observed and regularly enjoyed his meritorious review of proposals placed. He first joined the Bangladesh Observer as a Staff Reporter. Gradually, due to his educational background, seniors preferred that he could  cover the economic events and in this way, a knack for financial journalism was born. In the beginning, he did reports on various issues like banking and the corporate sector though at that time those sectors were not so developed. With the passage of time, Moazzem Hossain invested more time and energy in practising Financial Journalism.

On the most intriguing aspects of Financial Journalism, Moazzem Hossain elucidated very brilliantly in an exclusive interview with ICE Business Times, in 2015.

"There are two important aspects of Financial Journalism. One is conceptual and another contextual. For financial and business journalists, conceptual priority when it comes to their respective issues or fields is very important. On the other hand, reporting on stock markets requires fundamental ideas about the listed companies, market capitalisation, and Price Earnings Ratio. Again, for a reporter on banking issues, knowledge about Statutory Requirement, Bank Rate, Lending Rate and its administration and implication including performing and non-performing loans is instrumental. One has to have more practical, field-based knowledge. This is the conceptual aspect."

On the contextual side, Moazzem Hossain continued, comes the issue of writing for the readership in a country like Bangladesh where in general fiscal and economic literacy is not yet very good. From that perspective, conditions of various industries inside and outside the country, trading between different nations and so on are pivotal as we are living in an interdependent world. Moreover, developed countries also affect the economic performance of countries like us. Initially, we thought and designed a financial daily keeping in mind the economic condition of the country. Finally he observed that, nowadays, the contextual side of things is receiving more prominence. Nevertheless, for both the aspects, one has to continuously update oneself with the latest knowledge and changes in technology and the popular trends of global media.

The idea to set up a financial daily came to his mind in 1991. The Financial Express came into being in November, 1993. The timing was very interesting. The concept of globalisation was gaining momentum around the world. The Bangladesh economy was going to open up to embrace the changes that would take it to new heights. The GATT was replaced by WTO-Marrakech Agreement, which laid the framework of multilateral trading facilities for Bangladesh. The capital market was at a teething stage. Infrastructure was being built, new cash flows from abroad were wooing local investors to set up heavy industries and banks were getting more and more dynamic. Bangladeshi citizens needed a better understanding of those changes and reforms. The Financial Express was born to render a deeper understanding of the market and the economy. It was really a matter of joy and pride that the print media became a solemn witness to the rise of true financial journalism. This form of journalism and exposition was much needed to chronicle the emergence of Bangladesh as an Asian Tiger. With priorities set around issues like development sector, finance and economy, readers were also updated about the general news from home and abroad that they might find interesting.

Consequently, Moazzem became the guardian angel of the Financial  Express, its captain, steward and the driving force behind the work ethics he set as a benchmark for his co-workers and associates  to follow. The Financial Express has emerged diverse not only because it deals primarily with economy and business, but also because of its untiring effort for avoiding mistakes. Indeed the editor par excellence was passionate about maintaining as much purity of language as possible by the standard of a workaholic like him. It is because he has lived a life that is fruitful and richly rewarding. He could hardly be rude even to the lowest ranked employees in the office., he felt no compunction and complacence to ask his junior colleagues about usages for confirmation, when in doubt.

The lesson he has left for all working for The Financial Express is to be humble. A nice soul, Moazzem Hossain set examples of excellence in a number of areas in his ripe years. His formative years in economic reporting for different newspapers are more or less known to all. But what before his assumption of the editorship of The Financial Express? So his move up the professional ladder was based on strong grounds right from the beginning. He could not compromise on things now overlooked randomly.

A man of words and deeds, the late beloved editor of this paper has left a void in financial journalism unlikely to be filled soon. A man of his calibre surely had his life's mission greatly fulfilled. He had dedication to the profession and a meticulous eye for perfection.


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