Business Journalism Made Easy

Staff Correspondent
Wednesday, July 12th, 2017


The fast paced development of the economic sector of Bangladesh warrants the need for a new breed of journalists. Ajay Das Gupta and Robayet Ferdaus’ book ‘Byabshaye Shangbadikota’ aims to lay the groundwork in creating well-versed professionals in the realm of business journalism.


Byabshaye Shangbadikota (Business Reporting) argues that there is an urgent need for efficient and comprehensive practice of business journalism in Bangladesh. The book is a welcome initiative given the increasing interest in business and economic news.


The county’s booming economy may very well be regarded as the primary cause of this increasing interest. Even though privatisation of the various public industries of Bangladesh has been going on since the eighties, the post nineties liberalisation of trade and investment policies has resulted in tremendous economic growth – bringing in more investments from the private sectors as well as foreign investors. According to the figures provided by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1975 was BDT 293,820 million but had reached BDT 3,217,860 million in 2008 (a 995 percent increase over 25 years).


The World Investment Report 2009 subtitled ‘Trans-national Cooperation, Agricultural Production and Development’ by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) showed that the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) alone has grown from an average USD 7 million during 1990-1996 to USD 1.09 billion in the year 2008. The amount was 63 percent higher than that of the previous year and the first time the country crossed the billion-dollar-mark in terms of FDI inflow. The Central Depository Bangladesh Ltd. (CDBL) reported the number of investor accounts set-up at the Central Depository System (CDS) to be 6,347 in June 2004. By June 2008, the number increased to a remarkable 1,777,334.


So what are the implications of all these increasing figures? The answer is higher employment opportunities, increase in the average income levels and thus a heightened interest towards business by the people. This is also evident from the numbers provided by the Dhaka Stock Exchange which indicates that people have invested more and more in the capital market over the years. in 2007 mentioned the Dhaka Stock Exchange as Asia’s top performer after China.  JPMorgan, in the same year, named Bangladesh as one of the ‘Frontier Five’ markets worth investigating.  Along with Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co., it predicted Bangladesh to be the next Asian success story.  Therefore, it is reasonable to understand that the economic growth has directly or indirectly influenced the life of every single individual in the country.


However, in reality, the majority of the population lack the proper knowledge required to make proper business decisions or realise the potential impact of an economic event in their day-to-day lives; and that is where the role of a business journalist becomes apparent. As the book precisely points out, business reporting is noticeably different from established crime or entertainment news writing approaches. It requires comprehensive analysis and interpretation skills on part of the journalist with no room for added ‘spice’. This means that a farmer should get to know how to increase profits from cultivation and a share-market investor with limited business knowledge should be able to make better judgments based on resourceful and unbiased business reporting. Byabshaye Shangbadikota aims to aid journalists to do just that.


The book is well organised with an easy-to-understand use of language and is targeted towards students of business journalism and journalists interested in the genre. It is divided into three major parts. The first part ‘Fundamental ideas of business reporting’ is divided into two chapters. Chapter one discusses the types and techniques of business reporting. It starts with the definition and distinguishing features of business reporting and some key background on business journalism. The chapter then elaborates on key journalistic sources, techniques and approaches relevant to writing business reports along with ethical issues to be considered. It also addresses specific sub-genres such as budget reporting, stock-market reporting, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME).


It also has Women in business reporting which is quite an unconventional and creative way of thinking especially since the subject is in direct relevance to women’s role in the Bangladeshi business sector. Chapter two focuses on ‘Business reporting in the electronic media.’ It talks about the differences along with advantages and disadvantages when reporting for traditional electronic media such as radio and television as well as new media such as the internet. The emphasis is on utilising the interactivity of the latter medium along with the technical skills that would be required to work in them.


The second part of the book is more of a series of case studies where business news published both in English and Bangla in local newspapers have been analysed in the context of the use of language and various related angles. The third part is intended to provide the reader with a socio-economic picture of Bangladesh, focusing on SME, service sector, international trade, foreign remittance and more. The book ends with an index of jargons and business organisations and provides resources such as website addresses and other books on business reporting.


There are however significant areas of the book that could have been improved further. Since the authors have repeatedly stated the importance of business knowledge, it would have been fruitful to have a section on introduction to elementary business terms. Although the index at the end provides numerous definitions of various technical terms, it is not arranged in a specific structure, often making it hard to follow. Similarly, the importance for understanding financial statements such as balance sheets have been indicated in the book but no dedicated section that could aid the reader understand such. Numerous suggestions of using graphs could be better expressed if direct examples were provided. The only graphs found are in the case studies.


The third part providing the socio-economic picture of Bangladesh could address corporate, non-profits and most importantly real-estate sectors as these are among the most significant topics in business journalism. These are probably the only issues that have disrupted the book as being a ‘one-stop’ resource solution for business reporting. Nonetheless, it is an inspiring source of information for anyone interested in business journalism and could be referenced for courses akin.


Although a late comer in the sphere of business journalism, Byabshaye Shangbadikota can be considered the first book of its kind in the sense that no other book on the subject had previously been published in Bangladesh.

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