An open letter to members of the Bangladeshi media in Tower Hamlets

“Dear colleague,

We are writing to seek your views and advice about a recent issue of which only you have full knowledge.

For certain legal reasons we have to be circumspect and not name names but hey, we all know who we are talking about, right?

We don’t like having to address this letter to ‘the Bangladeshi media’ but let’s not kid ourselves, what has allegedly happened this week specifically relates to you.

You and us don’t talk much, rarely hanging out exchanging story tips and gossip over a coffee which is a shame. But it is just the way things seem to be in this troubled borough in which we live.

Anyway down to business.

LW understands that earlier this week there was an election related event to which you were all invited to.

And for some reason none of you turned up. Not a single one.

We have been told why none of you thought this particular event was worth covering.

And here it gets tricky for everyone involved.

Firstly we think we should really be addressing this letter to your wives, girlfriends or mums and ask their opinion is of the alleged events of this week.

If you don’t realise why we should be writing to them and not you then you might as well stop reading now.

But you are journalists so you are nosy, right? Like us! So we think you are going to continue reading.

So here’s the thing.

We completely understand why what happened has happened. We have been the subject of threats and intimidation too although probably nowhere near as bad as anything you have to endure to do your jobs.

This intimidation is the reason why this blog is not being written by a Bangladeshi.

Because any Bangladeshi resident of the borough who even dreamed of blogging about the reality of local politics here (and there must be many) would instantly dismiss the idea because they know how unpleasant their lives, and the lives of their family and friends, would become.

A lot of Bangladeshi people read LW and actively support us. And a lot of Bangladeshi people hate what we do! That’s the nature of journalism.

It’s the same with politics. When Labour supporters accuse LW of being a Tory mouthpiece and Conservatives accuse LW of being a a left wing rag we are getting the balance right.

This letter in no way condemns your actions. But we do not support them either. It’s just the way it is and we do understand.

Problem is guys that if this sort of thing continues to happen in Tower Hamlets we are all stuffed. Muslim, Christian, Jew, white, black, brown, Somali, French, Catholic, Polish, Somali. Doesn’t matter.

Everyone of us will lose.

Everyone of us will continue to live in a borough where the worst child poverty in all of Europe exists in the shadow of Canary Wharf.

People like us will continue to report on the deaths of young men cut down before they even get the chance to grow a moustache, let alone develop a life.

Journalists will still see the huge spike in web traffic on our sites when we report on the latest acid attack in the borough.

We understand the risk to your livelihoods if you had ignored the threats and gone ahead and done your thing this week.

If you upset one of the key sources of your usual stories to the extent that you know you will never ever get another sound bite of quote from them, or access to their events and press conferences, then you are not going to be able to make a living.

And we know just the same as you how hard it is to survive already.

We don’t run LW on a commercial basis, we do it for free. We do not get paid, we do not accept advertising. We have no grants or other sources of funding. We do have a donate button but to be honest with you (and keep this amongst yourselves) we usually only get about £40 a month from some kind people.

Which does not go a long way!

But that’s the deal. Cos if we were not publishing Love Wapping and writing stuff like this right now a lot of what happens in this borough would be completely hidden.

A completely opaque box from which no news escapes.

Which is why we continue to write stuff. Because no one else will.

That brings me back to the subject of this letter (which is probably confusing our normal readership but we think this is the best way to reach out to you).

You may not fully realise this but you as a group have enormous power. Huge.

Far more power than LW will ever have. Ok there are lots more of you than us but you know what I mean.

What and how you cover stories makes a massive difference to a lot of people. We think it is a pity that your work does not reach a broader audience but that’s a matter for another day.

You need to understand that with that power goes responsibility.

That’s it really.

You know what happened earlier this week. We know what happened earlier this week. The wider community does not.

LW will probably write a story about it soon, although the very nature of the subject makes it a tricky one to cover. But we will have a go.

When we run that story we know that we run little significant risk to ourselves or our livelihood.

If you choose to run that story you know the risks you take.

We will not condemn you if you do not. We know the deal.

You might find that your wives, mothers and girlfriends are less understanding.

The person who was the subject of the event which you did not attend does not present any significant political challenge to anyone.

She would be the first to agree. She just wants to do her thing.  But her voice is not allowed to be heard in the Bangladeshi press.

To conclude we just want to ask that if your wife, girlfriend, sister or mother had a political view to get across to people, organised a press event and no one turned up because they were told not to by an opponent how would you feel?

Not good, right?

Yours from the tropical paradise that is Wapping,

Mark Baynes and the Wapping Mole”



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