Inside the Press Box: Sports journalism, the Bangladesh way
The book, penned by Azad Majumder, the first of its kind in Bangladesh discussing the practical aspects of sports journalism with a personal touch, could indeed be a welcome addition to the curriculum for students of journalism in Bangladesh
It was May 2016 when one of the leading dailies of the country hesitantly 'broke' a new story that instantly caught everyone's attention. It was reported that the upcoming Test series between Bangladesh and India could be named the 'Durjoy-Ganguly Trophy.' Online media publications jumped on the story quickly and made it an instant sensation across the cricketing world.
This piece of news spread so far and wide that even Sourav Ganguly, the former India captain who later went on to become the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), also featured the issue in an episode of his popular TV reality-show 'Dadagiri.' As such, people had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the news.
Ironically, the news was not only untrue, but there was not the slightest possibility of it happening in reality either. It was simply an idea born out of a casual 'adda' among cricket journalists on a lazy afternoon, when they had nothing serious to write about. The mass-circulated daily, which had no representative present during the 'adda,' somehow got a clue and published it as a real possibility the next day.
This anecdote, shared by veteran sports journalist Azad Majumder in his debut book 'Inside the Press Box,' is both amusing and worrying, as it clearly depicts the bleak picture of how sports journalism could – but should not – work in Bangladesh.
But the reason I have decided to open the article with this example goes beyond the mere fact that it is interesting. Rather, I also have a personal history to share pertaining to this matter.
It was me, a 17-year-old HSC examinee in 2016, who was the first person to 'translate' and 'modify' the said fake news to English, and help spread it among the non-Bangla speaking population.
Working as an aspiring journalist for an online-based cricket news portal at that time, I had no institutional knowledge about journalism, and thought anything appearing in the mainstream media would be true. Little did I know of journalistic jargons like check, cross-check and cross-referencing that Majumder mentions in his book.
Fast forward to March 2023, and it has been three months since I completed my Master's in Mass Communication and Journalism from the University of Dhaka, undoubtedly one of the leading educational institutions in the country. But can I now claim to be aware of all aspects of sports journalism, or journalism in general? Not really. Even after six years (one extra year due to the coronavirus pandemic) of rigorously acquiring academic knowledge on journalism, as well as securing decent grades in the process, I cannot say that I have really completed learning everything there is there to learn before embarking on a career as a professional journalist in Bangladesh.
Honestly, there was no such book in our curriculum where everything was placed in the Bangladeshi context. Most of the books we had to read were about theoretical knowledge of journalism, and the few books on practical journalism that we came across were also full of foreign examples and case studies that had little to no resemblance to events taking place in our country.
As a result, we could hardly be prepared for what we might have to face after beginning practicing journalism in Bangladesh.
So, the book penned by Majumder, the first of its kind in Bangladesh discussing the practical aspects of sports journalism with a personal touch, could indeed be a welcome addition to the curriculum for students of journalism in Bangladesh.
Regardless of a person's interest or indifference to sports, this book could provide them with ample opportunities to learn a few basic things about journalism, ranging from news sense and source, news structure, interview and press conference, objectivity, investigative journalism, data journalism, nationalism and the ethics of journalism.
And when it comes to people who genuinely hold an interest in sports, sportspersons, sports journalism and all things sports, this book is like a goldmine, introducing them to a limitless learning curve before setting foot in the realm of sports.
Inside a book containing only 96 pages, the seasoned campaigner with 25 years of journalistic experience under his belt, incorporated many important things that will definitely go down in the annals of Bangladesh sports journalism.
The book was published by Oitijjhya in February 2023 and is currently available across all the outlets of Nirbachito, the Facebook page of Oitijjhya, as well as in the leading online bookstores of the country.