Journalism work of collecting, writing, editing and publishing material in newspapers and magazines or on television and radio for general information. In a broader sense, it also refers to works of persons professionally involved in mass communications, advertising, and public relations.
Journalism in its limited sense of reporting incidents and dissemination of information was there in Bengal and other parts of India even in ancient and medieval periods. In ancient India, inscriptions engraved on rocks or pillars served as a medium of information. Emperor Asoka, for example, had his Rock Edicts and Pillar Edicts posted all over his empire and even beyond. He engaged spies and overseers to collect information. During the Sultanate period, the Barid-i-Mamalik or commissioner of intelligence used to serve the authorities with the information of the empire. The munhis or spies of Sultan Alauddin Khalji communicated even the most trivial things to the Sultan. The Mughal government had a network of news-services-the waqai-navis, sawanih-navis, and khufia-navis. In addition to them there were harkarah and akhbar-navis for serving the royalties with general information. The bhats, kathaks and narasundars provided the people with social and cultural information. However, due to despotic forms of government and impossibility of reporting objectively, the proto-journalism of Mughal Bengal could never grow into journalism in its proper sense.
Journalism with its modern characteristics originated from Europe in the eighteenth century. Due to colonial reasons, however, it began in Bengal ahead of all countries of Asia. The history of modern journalism in Bengal was inaugurated by Augustus Hicky by publishing a weekly journal, Hicky's bengal gazette, at Calcutta in January 1780. An advertisement of the paper read, "a weekly political and commercial paper open to all parties, but influenced by none".
The year 1818 marks the beginning of Bengali journalism. This year witnessed the publication of three Bangla newspapers-Bengal Gazeti (Calcutta), Digdarshan (Calcutta) and Samachar Darpan (Serampore). Bengal Gazeti is said to have been published first which was followed by Samachar Darpan and digdarshan. The first Bangla newspaper, Samachar Darpan, was published from serampore in 1818. The first weekly within the territory of today's Bangladesh, Rangpur Bartabaha, was published in 1847 from rangpur and the first weekly from Dhaka, Dacca News, was published in 1856. The long lasting dhaka prakash was first published in 1861 and Dhaka Darpan in 1863.
Journalism as a profession took a new turn from the beginning of the twentieth century. Nationalist agitation, rise of Muslim nationalism, the First and Second World Wars and the introduction of representative government contributed to the rapid increase in newspaper readership. The Partition of Bengal in 1947 and emergence of Dhaka as the capital of East Bengal was another important factor that contributed to the growth of journalism in Eastern Bengal. At present, about 1,800 newspapers and periodicals are published from different parts of Bangladesh. It speaks of a massive development in the field of journalism since 1947.
Until very recently, journalism was practised by people who rarely had any formal training in the profession. The craft of journalism is learnt through apprenticeship and long association with the profession. Training in journalism originates from the USA and now it is an established institution in Bangladesh as well. Most universities of the country teach journalism and related subjects in independent departments. In addition to this, journalism is taught and journalists are trained in several public institutes and centres.
Journalists have general and branch-wise associations not only for promoting professional interests but also for developing professional potentialities and ethics. In Bangladesh, most journalists are members of professional trade unions that work as pressure groups in protecting their rights and privileges. Journalism is now pursued as a respectable career, though the political realities prevailing in Bangladesh have made the profession particularly challenging. For truth and analyses of events and information, general people turn more to journalists than to public leaders and political parties. While gathering information and reporting an incidence, journalists often become targets of vested interests including government. Thus assault or manhandling or even killing and maiming of journalists by the exposed vested interests is quite common. [Enamul Haq]