World Press Photo Opens in Dhaka
Well, the show is still stuck at the airport, and Marc has been loitering around the streets of Dhaka, but we are still hopeful that the biggest show of the year will open tomorrow (7th January) at 4:00 pm at the Drik Gallery. The exhibition will be opened by former Chief Justice and Chief Adviser to the caretaker government Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman. ------ We live in difficult times. Not only do we need to combat the suppression of press freedom locally, but we also need to fight the unrestrained propaganda that camouflages as news in mainstream western media. The use of the media for propaganda is not new. While embedded journalism has only recently been institutionalised, the mechanism has been in place ever since the US failed 'to manage' the media during the invasion of Grenada. However, the global reach of some western media organisations give them a reach that is unprecedented. The new forms of imperialism are also supported by tacit support from local representatives of western governments, as well as the developmental and cultural organisations they support. Ironically, these are the very organisations that promote 'free press and democracy' in our countries while local media organisations operate under the silent pressures of tied aid and thinly veiled threats of 'withdrawal of support'. It is ten years since we first brought World Press Photo (WPP) to the region. Now WPP is not only a regular feature in our calendar, but the show has also travelled to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The WPP workshops have also been held in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. Showing the finest photojournalism exhibition in the world has had a visible impact in our development of press photography. Bangladeshis have won awards, been accepted for Masterclass, and been represented in both the adult and child juries of WPP. Despite these successes, it is our ability to withstand these local and international pressures, which will determine whether we can ever become a media of the people. Political and financial independence doesn't come easy. However, it is not the west or our politicians, or our sponsors who hold the key. The compromises we make along the way, the favours we accept, and our selective blind-spots will eventually circumscribe our freedoms. Through this exhibition we celebrate the professionalism, the dedication, the compassion and the love for this freedom that many photojournalists demonstrate. Shahidul Alam Chairman of the Jury 2003
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