Monday, March 8, 2010


I am sick and tired of hearing newspapers extolled: apparently their only function, according to men like de Tocqueville and Amartya Sen, is to provide information. The former is a more discerning writer and reflects that newspapers serve to form associations of like-minded readers; that is, those possessing the same prejudices.
It is a short step – not a giant leap – from this consideration to one about the powers of language. These views totally ignore the persuasive powers of language. In Bangladesh, for instance, one of the chief functions of newspapers is to promote jingoism and nationalism. When the world is trying to move away from nationalism, with all its inherent destructiveness, our newspapers wholeheartedly devote themselves to perpetuating it.

Newspapers have been responsible for the misery of the Native Americans, for inciting wars, for inflating speculative bubbles thereby creating poverty where there was abundance…all with the power of language to persuade.

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