People’s News

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Drik calendar 2012 now available:

Farmers harvest a bumper crop of Jute in Bogra district due to favourable weather and timely rain. The District Agricultural Department is expecting 240,000 bales of jute to be produced in Bogra region this year and the farmers are optimistic about getting good prices. Bogra, Bangladesh. July 20, 2010. © Shafiq Islam/DrikNEWS

A moment of crisis, a celebration, the unexpected, a dream realized, hidden truths, a reaffirmation of what we knew. Through TV screens, newspaper pages, giant electronic screens and tiny handsets, we gather, sift, scroll and parse news unfolding. Through twitter feeds, facebook and blogs, we circulate the news that we are fed, to inform, alert and mobilise those around us. Occasionally we question. The news photograph brings down powerful autocrats, highlights the plight of a single child, shines a spotlight on communities in strife, ignites the passion of victory, shares the tragedy of loss.

Villagers of Choto Gunorgati live in fear of river erosion and have shifted house three or four times to makeshift housing in crowded and unsanitary conditions. It is estimated that 100,000 families have become homeless in northern district of Bangladesh. This village located about 160 km from the capital city of Dhaka, beside the Jamuna river is well known as a weaving village. It has lost 7 kilometres to erosion in the last 6 years. Sirajgonj, Bangladesh. June 3, 2007. © Tanvir Ahmed/DrikNEWS

But the manufacture of consent has rarely been more engineered. With everything from wars to presidential campaigns being stage-managed and with mainstream news increasingly fed by official sources, reliance on usual sources of news images has become increasingly dangerous.

Police arrest an investor following violent demonstrations outside the Dhaka Stock Exchange. The protest started after the stock market plunged to a record low of 660.43 points within the first 55 minutes of trading on Monday, January 1, 2011. Dhaka, Bangladesh. © Wahid Adnan/DrikNEWS

Majority world countries suffer particularly from stereotypical representations, and with media-mergers creating ever more powerful organisations, with tentacles that touch every aspect of our lives, our ‘knowledge’ of the world becomes increasingly more dominated by a few players. The need for news sources to be diverse and varied was never more urgent. With Getty and Corbis controlling the stock photo market, and Reuters, AP, AFP and EPA dominating the wires, massaging the truth is a norm that infiltrates our consciousness. The barriers between news and entertainment becomes increasingly blurred. Advertorials, product placements, well planted press releases package marketing hype through the Trojan horse of sponsored sound-bites and gritty footage masquerading as news.

Police and mega-alliance blockaders clashed at different places in the capital, leaving 20 people injured. Police fired at least 50 rounds of tear gas and arrested 15 people. Four large homemade bombs were thrown. The 72-hour blockade was called by the Awami League and its allies to demand the postponing of elections and reconstitute the caretaker government. Dhaka, Bangladesh, January 1, 2007. © Munem Wasif/DrikNEWS

Popular uprisings orchestrated through selected and sometimes fictional ‘news feeds’ are used to justify invasions, occupation and the murder and demonization of leaders who have outlived their usefulness. Propaganda in the guise of news, calls for selective applications of the Geneva Convention and international laws. Murder is justified, genocide glossed over. News channels hailed as the champions of the underdogs, know when to change their tune , towing the party line.

A fire started allegedly by an arsonist following a personal dispute destroys 75 shanties in the Lalmati Bihari slum in Mirpur. No casualties or wounded were reported yet it took almost three hours for the Mirpur firefighters to get the fire under control. Dhaka, Bangladesh. February 27, 2010. © Wahid Adnan/DrikNEWS

The majority world has traditionally been represented by white, middle class, western photographers. But having local photographers is not sufficient in itself. As long as editorial control remains in the North, stories will continue to have a northern slant. As long as major corporations own the media, reporting will always serve the interests of the wealthy. The only way this can be challenged is through alternative sources being formed that are independent of western and corporate media. Lean, efficient, fluid media entities that can outmaneuver the media giants, creating fissures in smooth storytelling of the mega media machinery, allowing a different truth to emerge through the cracks.

Candles flicker at a church as Christians observe All Souls’ Day on the 2nd of November. On this day Christians visit graveyards, remember their friends and family and pray for the departed souls of their loved ones. Dhaka, Bangladesh. November 2, 2009. © Wahid Adnan/DrikNEWS

DrikNEWS is such a guerilla resistance against media occupation. The agency, an independent body of Drik Picture Library uses the powerful mix of new technology and grassroots reporting, to challenge established media, especially through citizen journalism and rural reporting. Through professionals immersed in their communities, and unhindered by the strings of corporate control, it tells stories that go against the grain. Combining powerful tools available through new technologies, linked with an extensive network of passionate reporters, the pioneers of digital technology in Bangladesh have combined the global reach of new media, with the local sensitivity of rural journalists nurtured by their communities. This is news for the people told the way only the people can tell.

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This entry was posted in Bangladesh, Capitalism, culture, Democracy, economy, environment, Governance, Human rights, media, Photography, Photojournalism, politics, Shahidul Alam, South Asia and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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