🇧🇩 Speaking the unspeakable in Bangladesh | The Listening Post (Full)

On The Listening Post this week: protests in Dhaka are about more than road safety, but the government will not let that message air. Plus, how the late Tom Wolfe inspires journalists today.

Speaking the unspeakable in Bangladesh

It is rare for traffic accidents to result in international headlines. But that is what happened in Bangladesh – where two road fatalities triggered weeks of protests and landed a renowned photojournalist in prison.

Award-winning photographer Shahidul Alam was arrested and charged for making ‘false’ and ‘provocative’ comments in a TV interview on Al Jazeera. He criticised the alleged excessive use of force on protesters demanding road safety and questioned the legitimacy of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government.

There’s a general election coming up later this year, and the government has grown increasingly intolerant of critical voices, especially on the internet. The authorities rely on a vaguely worded law, the Information and Communications Technology Act, which can land anyone publishing ‘fake and obscene material’ online behind bars.

The effect, on journalism in Bangladesh, has been chilling.

Meenakshi Ganguly – South Asia Director, Human Rights Watch
David Bergman – Journalist
Bangladeshi Journalist (anonymous)
Ikhtisad Ahmed – Author, “Yours, Etcetera” and Contributor, Scroll
Hasanul Haq Inu – Bangladeshi Minister of Information

On our radar

Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Tariq Nafi about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s assertions that fabricated news stories may have contributed to the weakening of the Turkish lira; and Facebook’s controversial moderation standards that saw the English language page of Telesur, a high-profile Venezuelan outlet deleted – then restored.

The Intersection of Literature & Journalism

American writer Tom Wolfe, who died earlier this year, is best known for his work as an author – books like “The Right Stuff” and “Bonfire of the Vanities”. But in the 1960s and 70s he was at the forefront of another movement: New Journalism.
Wolfe and others pioneered a new type of reporting, borrowing some techniques from novelists and using them to write non-fiction to produce journalism. The initial reviews were not stellar, especially among reporters who saw New Journalism as an affront to their profession.

However, it revolutionised reporting and its impact is felt to this day, not just in the US, but around the world and not just in mainstream media, but also online.

Feature contributors
Dan Bischoff – Art Critic, The Star Ledger
Emily Witt – The New Yorker

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