The Daily Star (Bangladesh)

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The Daily Star
Journalism without fear or favour
TypeDaily newspaper
FormatBroadsheet
Owner(s)Transcom Group
Founder(s)Syed Mohammad Ali
EditorMahfuz Anam (Editor)
Syed Ashfaqul Haque (Executive Editor)
Aasha Mehreen Amin (Joint Editor)
Founded14 January 1991; 33 years ago (1991-01-14)
LanguageEnglish
Headquarters64–65, Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Dhaka-1215
Circulation29,450[1]
Websitethedailystar.net

The Daily Star is a Bangladeshi English-language daily newspaper. It is by far the largest circulating English-language newspaper in the country.[2] Founded by Syed Mohammed Ali on 14 January 1991, as Bangladesh transitioned and restored parliamentary democracy,[3][4] the newspaper became popular for its outspoken coverage of politics, corruption, and foreign policy. It is considered a newspaper of record for Bangladesh.[5][6] The newspaper has been described as having a "reputation for journalistic integrity and liberal and progressive views - a kind of Bangladeshi New York Times".[7]

Mahfuz Anam serves as editor and publisher of The Daily Star. The Daily Star is owned by Mediaworld, in which a major share is held by the Transcom Group.[8] Star Business, the business edition of the paper, is highly popular. The newspaper serves its Bengali readership digitally through its website. It is highly active in social media as well including in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. The newspaper’s multimedia news contents are widely followed through its YouTube channel @TheDailyStarNews.

History[edit]

In the late 1980s, plans for a major English newspaper in Bangladesh were drawn up by Syed Mohammad Ali and Mahfuz Anam in Bangkok. Ali previously served as Editor of The Bangkok Post in Thailand and the Hong Kong Standard in British Hong Kong. Anam was working in UNESCO when he teamed up with Ali to establish a newspaper in Bangladesh. They secured funding from leading Bangladeshi financiers, including Azimur Rahman, A. S. Mahmud, Latifur Rahman, A. Rouf Chowdhury and Shamsur Rahman.[9] The newspaper was set up in 1991, which coincided with Bangladesh's return to parliamentary democracy after 15 years of military rule and presidential government. The Daily Star gained popularity for its outspoken coverage of politics in Bangladesh, including the rivalry between the Awami League led by Sheikh Hasina and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by Khaleda Zia. It became the country's largest circulating English-language newspaper and quickly overtook The Bangladesh Observer and Weekly Holiday. It gained a wide readership in Dhaka and Chittagong, particularly among the urban elites, the business community and the diplomatic community.

In 2007, The Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam called out army chief General Moeen U Ahmed for suggesting political reforms, arguing that it was beyond the mandate of the army chief to speak about politics.[10] In a widely read commentary titled "This is no way to strengthen democracy", Anam also blasted the military-backed caretaker government for the arrest of Sheikh Hasina in 2007.[11] In 2009, an investigative report by The Daily Star implicated former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's son Tarique Rahman and close aides from Hawa Bhaban in the 2004 Dhaka grenade attack.[12] Tarique Rahman was later sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the attack.[13] In 2015, the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina suspended all tender notices and government adverts in The Daily Star as a pressure tactic because government advertisements generate a significant share of revenue for the newspaper; this suspension was later lifted.[14] In 2021, a commentary by Mahfuz Anam criticized army chief General Aziz Ahmed for controversial remarks in which Aziz suggested that criticizing the army chief was tantamount to criticizing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.[15] On 22 April 2022, Anam wrote a commentary titled "Can we really have a free and fair election?" in which he lamented Bangladesh's democratic backsliding.[16] Throughout 2022 and 2023, Anam wrote a series of articles on the importance of free and fair elections, press freedom, the Digital Security Act (which was repealed), the role of the bureaucracy, political history, political parties and the Bangladesh Election Commission.[17][18][19][20][21]

Staff[edit]

Only two years after launching the newspaper, SM Ali died and a young Anam, who was Ali's protege, became the editor of the fledgling daily. As editor and publisher, Anam has been widely credited for steering the paper's editorial independence. Financial affairs are overseen by a six-member board of directors of the holding company Mediaworld Limited. Syed Fahim Munaim was the CEO and Managing Editor of the newspaper for many years.[22] Munaim was credited for ensuring the financial independence of paper. Ahead of the 2024 general election, the paper hired several pro-BNP journalists and writers, took an aggressively pro-BNP editorial stance, and strongly criticized the ruling Awami League. The election ended up being boycotted by the BNP amid allegations of a lack of a conducive environment for holding elections. In 2023, Anam was appointed chairman of the holding company of The Daily Star after the death of longstanding chairperson Rokeya Afzal Rahman. Syed Ashfaqul Haque, who worked in both management and the newsroom for 31 years, was appointed as Executive Editor. Aasha Mehreen Amin, the granddaughter of Pakistan's last Bengali premier Nurul Amin, serves as the Joint Editor while S.S. Preetha is head of the Op-Ed section, which was previously headed by Zafar Sobhan.[23] Amin continues to wield significant influence over commentaries and Op-Eds. Amin previously ran the paper's defunct Star magazine supplement. Mizanur Rahman, the Head of Operations, and Tajdin Hasan, the Chief Business Officer, are the two other key leaders of the newspaper.

Controversies[edit]

In recent years, the paper has complained of growing restrictions on press freedom in Bangladesh.[24] It also faced pressure from the government which affected its ad revenues.[25]

Lawsuits from Awami League and BNP members[edit]

PEN America strongly criticized the lawsuits filed against Mahfuz Anam, including as many as 83 lawsuits and 30 counts of criminal defamation lodged by members and supporters of the Awami League.[26] During the Bangladesh Nationalist Party government in the 2000s, Anam faced defamation lawsuits from ruling BNP leaders. He was co-accused with Matiur Rahman, editor of the Bengali newspaper Prothom Alo, in defamation cases filed by Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury. Anam was represented in court by Kamal Hossain.

DGFI leaks[edit]

In 2016, speaking at a panel discussion on ATN News, Mahfuz Anam admitted that The Daily Star ran stories fed to the newspaper by military intelligence outfit DGFI during the military-backed state of emergency and caretaker government in 2007 and 2008. The stories accused Awami League and BNP leaders of corruption.[27] A string of lawsuits were filed against Anam following his admission.

Website blocked[edit]

The newspaper's website was briefly blocked on 1 June 2018 after it reported the extrajudicial killing of Ekramul Haque by members of the Rapid Action Battalion.[28] The killing took place while the victim was speaking with his family on the phone. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) did not give any explanation for the block.

Child abuse by staff[edit]

In February 2024, Executive Editor Syed Ashfaqul Haque and his wife Tania Khondoker were sent to jail after they surrendered to a court in Dhaka, following the death of a fifteen year old female maid at their house in Mohammadpur Thana.[29][30] Haque and his wife faced charges of child abuse. The deceased maid was a teenage girl named Preeti Urang who worked as a servant in the house of the executive editor. Urang hailed from a tea garden worker's family in Moulvibazar District. Protests were held demanding justice for the girl's death.[31][32] The newspaper issued a formal apology over the incident.[33]

Other publications[edit]

Cover of 1 February 2008

Starting in May 1996, The Daily Star published a weekly magazine supplement titled The Star every Friday. Aasha Mehreen Amin was the first editor of the magazine and continued in that capacity for 18 years.[34] The Star became Star Weekend.[35] Elita Karim was the magazine's editor from 2015 to 2017. Star Weekend ceased publication on 29 November 2019, as The Daily Star downsized to adapt to a changing media landscape.[36]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "দেশের ইংরেজি ভাষায় প্রকাশিত মিডিয়া তালিকাভুক্ত দৈনিক পত্রিকার প্রচার সংখ্যা ও বিজ্ঞাপন হার" (PDF). dfp.portal.gov.bd (in Bengali). Bangladesh Government. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 October 2022. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  2. ^ Newspaper Trends: Bangladesh Archived 19 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine, World Advertising Research Center. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
  3. ^ "Remembering Syed Mohammad Ali". The Daily Star. 17 October 2007. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  4. ^ "SM Ali's World". Southbound.com.my. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  5. ^ Roy, Anupam Debashis (January 2020). Not All Springs End Winter. Adarsha. p. 144. ASIN B097ZL8NFW. Reports on the demands of the students that were published on the Daily Star, often considered Bangladesh's newspaper of record, ....
  6. ^ Sklair, Leslie (May 2022). The Anthropocene in Global Media: Neutralizing the risk. Routledge. ISBN 978-0367641993. Bangladesh: The first and most articles (19) appear in The Daily Star, often considered the newspaper of record.
  7. ^ "'Attempt to crush independent media' in Bangladesh". BBC News. 18 February 2016. Archived from the original on 27 August 2022. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  8. ^ "Welcome to Transcom". Transcom. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Column by Mahfuz Anam: Snapshots from the past, thoughts for the future". 12 February 2021. Archived from the original on 27 August 2022. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  10. ^ "How can national interest be served best?". Archived from the original on 11 October 2022. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  11. ^ "This is no way to strengthen democracy". 8 February 2016. Archived from the original on 11 October 2022. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  12. ^ "It was Hawa Bhaban plot". 26 October 2009. Archived from the original on 11 October 2022. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  13. ^ Riaz, Ali (29 April 2022). "Bangladesh's Quiet Slide into Autocracy". Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 11 October 2022. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  14. ^ "Bangladeshi spies accused of blocking media adverts". Archived from the original on 17 August 2022. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  15. ^ "Column by Mahfuz Anam: Some comments require clarification". 19 February 2021. Archived from the original on 11 October 2022. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  16. ^ Anam, Mahfuz (22 April 2022). "Commentary by Mahfuz Anam: Can we really have a free and fair election?". The Daily Star. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  17. ^ https://www.thedailystar.net/author/mahfuz-anam
  18. ^ https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/the-third-view/news/cec-hits-the-nail-the-head-the-wrong-nail-3082041
  19. ^ https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/the-third-view/news/why-are-there-so-many-laws-against-free-media-3027426
  20. ^ https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/views/the-third-view/news/column-mahfuz-anam-who-runs-the-country-3231371
  21. ^ https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/views/the-third-view/news/column-mahfuz-anam-death-the-opposition-parliament-3533876
  22. ^ "A Tribute To Syed Fahim Munaim". The Daily Star. 2 August 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  23. ^ https://www.epw.in/journal/2009/11/letter-south-asia-columns/state-shock.html
  24. ^ "Bangladesh Press Council: Is the protector turning into a 'predator'?". 26 August 2022. Archived from the original on 27 August 2022. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  25. ^ "Bangladeshi spies accused of blocking media adverts". Archived from the original on 17 August 2022. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  26. ^ "Bangladesh: Defamation Charges Against Editor Representative of Broader Attacks on Media". 18 February 2016. Archived from the original on 27 August 2022. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  27. ^ "Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam admits to publishing DGFI-fed baseless stories". bdnews24.com. Archived from the original on 5 April 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  28. ^ "Star blocked, unblocked". The Daily Star. 3 June 2018. Archived from the original on 23 August 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  29. ^ "Preeti Urang's death: 4-day remand granted for The Daily Star executive editor, wife". The Business Standard. 13 February 2024. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  30. ^ "Journalist Ashfaqul, wife Tania land in jail over death of domestic worker". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  31. ^ "Demand for justice grows as tea workers protest domestic worker Preeti's death". The Business Standard. 12 February 2024. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  32. ^ "Daily Star urged to take action against Ashfaq". New Age | The Most Popular Outspoken English Daily in Bangladesh. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  33. ^ "Editor's note to readers". The Daily Star. 16 February 2024. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  34. ^ Amin, Aasha Mehreen (29 November 2019). "Why we need weekend magazines". The Daily Star. Archived from the original on 5 June 2023. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  35. ^ Hossain, Anika (5 June 2015). "Saying Goodbye". The Daily Star. Archived from the original on 5 June 2023. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  36. ^ Preetha, Sushmita S. (29 November 2019). "Change is the only constant". The Daily Star. Archived from the original on 5 June 2023. Retrieved 5 June 2023.

External links[edit]