A journalist with financial, ethical probity

Raihan M Chowdhury | Published: August 10, 2018 22:11:23 | Updated: August 12, 2018 21:35:10


The sudden demise of Mr Moazzem Hossain, our beloved editor is no doubt an irreparable loss to our profession.

I heard of him a lot as he founded the first English financial daily of Bangladesh in 1993. But he was an idol in business journalism to our seniors for his extraordinary skill in in-depth reporting and analysis on different economic issues in a lucid, bold and exquisite style.

He had authored his articles mostly in weekly Holiday between 1973 and 1993 under the pen name of Hossain Khasru. The seasoned journalist had also made his contribution to The Bangladesh Observer and the Daily Star through his sharp and enlightening reports and analyses.

He epitomised the business journalism profession in a delicate and professional way which later inspired many young journalists to enter the specialised segment of economic journalism, now a major area of all daily newspapers in the country, though till 1990's, it was a neglected area in the dailies.

Once a top policy-maker of Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) said they miserably failed to convince the news editor of a major English daily to publish their daily market quotation in that newspaper. The DSE was offered to publish it as an advertisement, instead of a news item.

It is now a historical paradox that each newspaper presently spends more than Tk 0.1 million per month to publish the DSE price quotations in all working days of a week.

It has been possible only for the thriving growth of the business journalism over the years, led by AHM Moazzem Hossain, one of the marquee names in Bangladesh journalism.

I first met him in late-1996 in an interview to be appointed as a reporter in his newspaper. He appointed me as a reporter and began to shepherd my raw copies with felicitous grace and utmost care and many of those reports appeared in the FE with prominent coverage regularly between late-1996 and 2006.

I still remember how he taught a naive reporter like me the reporting skill and writing capacity in those callow days of my youth when I was moving into an almost uncharted territory, as my previous working house 'The Morning Sun' was just announced closed sine die in early October of 1996.

He had then extended an undiluted support to build my professional career.

He was one of the finest journalists of the country who, through his untiring devotion and strict adherence to ethical journalism made enormous contribution to the growth of professional journalism in the country.

His rip-roaring success was co-founding The Financial Express and turning it into the first successful English language economic daily of the country.

Though the journey was not so easy, Moazzem Bhai handled the job meticulously overcoming many hurdles. Arranging adequate funds, appointing skilled human resources, selecting a good office location, paying the journalists and employees regularly and finally attracting the readers and patrons for a newly-launched financial daily were no doubt a Herculean job for anybody.

But everything he had accomplished in a very professional way.

Due to his untiring zeal and hands-on stewardship of the paper, the FE grew into a credible and financially viable business daily in the country with the syndication arrangement with London-based Financial Times.

He was deeply committed to the fundamental values of ethical journalism towards the growth of which he spared no effort. He was regular speaker in journalism faculties of different universities and training events.

Due to his very good grasp of different business and trade issues, many prestigious professional bodies and corporate houses like Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dhaka (MCCI), Foreign Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Dhaka Stock Exchange, Chittagong Stock Exchange, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB), Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh (ICMAB), International Chamber of Commerce-Bangladesh (ICC-B), Southeast Bank Ltd, Mercantile Bank Ltd, British American Tobacco-Bangladesh, Standard Chartered Bangladesh, HSBC, PRI, MRDI and all media outlets including BBC had invited him on many occasions as their resource person.

A gentleman par excellence and modest to a fault, he was a man of few words but of immense knowledge about national and international developments in the world of economics. His insightful editorials and in-depth analysis of economic trends always served as a barometer of future tidings. He will be remembered by the nation and revered by his fellow professionals as an inspiring figure in Bangladeshi journalism.

Avoiding all kinds of populism, he navigated all departments of a newspaper -- news, accounts, revenue, circulation, etc. with much dexterity and integrity. 

In that sense, he was not only an editor, rather he was a 'complete management'.

I had a 'hidden desire' over the last few years to approach him to seek his consent for publishing the selected articles, authored by him over the decades.

But unfortunately, I failed to communicate my desire to him. Now, an initiative should be taken to publish those articles, that appeared in many newspapers including the Weekly Holiday, Bangladesh Observer, The Daily Star and The Financial Express.

A single book can not accommodate such a big volume of articles, several books are needed to constitute a reservoir of his erudition and wisdom on different business and economic issues. 

These books of extraordinary gravitas could be a treasure-trove for learners of business journalism in our country. It will be an ethereal tribute to him as well.

The FE was cocooned from any adversity and financial hardship due to Moazzem Bhai's untiring efforts and dedication during the last 25 years and now our life is an empty shell with his sudden demise but the professionalism and probity learned from him will fulfil that vacuum to some extent.

Dr Muhammad Shahidullah, a renowned scholar ahead of his death in 1969 had commented, 'I will soon be forgotten'.

I swear, Moazzem Bhai, you will not be forgotten, your fond memories will be cherished in our hearts for ever.

Mashuk Chowdhury, an obscure poet, wrote: "I don't see any death in blurred eye, all demise seemed to me as pre-mature death..."

Moazzem Bhai, you have also left us prematurely.

Your grave is located between two trees -- one is a mango tree and another mehogoni -- at the Azimpur graveyard but your eternal presence is felt between two unique human qualities -- assiduity and probity -- in our minds.

You led a virtuous life, sorely absent in our time. May Allah keep you in eternal peace.

raihanmchowdhury@gmail.com

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