‘Reports during pandemic focused more on number of cases and deaths rather than on graft in health sector’
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has announced the winners of its Special Investigative Journalism during Covid-19 Award 2020”
A total of three awards were announced on Tuesday during a virtual discussion titled ‘The Challenges and Steps in Investigative Journalism during Covid-19’ by TIB.
The awards were given out in three categories - local print or online media, national print or online media, and electronic media.
In the local print media category, Staff Reporter Abu Ryhan Tanin of the Daily Chattagram Pratidin received the award for his report that over lack of ICU facilities for Covid patients in Chittagong
In the national print or online media category, Senior Correspondent Saikat Bhowmik of the online newspaper Sarabangla received the award for his series report on JKG Healthcare Covid-19 test scam.
In the electronic media category (TV report), Ekattor Television’s Senior Correspondent Mufti Parvez Nadir Reza won the award for his report which exposed that r manufacturers were using toxic chemicals like methanol in hand sanitizers.
Discussion on investigative journalism
Addressing the event, veteran journalist Prof Afsan Chowdhury said: “Investigative journalism has declined during the pandemic. Instead of news on corruption, more reports are done on the infection and death numbers.
“I think this award is an inspiration to those who have done investigative journalism during the Covid-19 situations. Corruption and looting are still going on, there should be reports to find out how and why these are happening.”
TIB's Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said there are two challenges in investigative journalism -- internal and external.
The journalist’s ethics, skills and not getting influenced by anything falls under the internal challenges while the external challenges are dealing with different political contexts. For example -- the Digital Security Act (DSA) has been abused at various times, for which a journalist protection policy is also needed, he added.
During the program Md Masum Billa, assistant coordinator, outreach and communication of TIB, presented the keynote paper titled “Investigative Journalism: Bangladesh Perspective during pandemic.”
The situation of free journalism in Bangladesh is getting worse day by day. Most of the media in the country have fallen under the effect of the “Spiral of Silence” theory instead of producing skilled journalists, Masum Billa said during his presentation.
He also provided some recommendations and urged concerned authorities to take adequate measures to ensure occupational safety of journalists.
In order to control irregularities and corruption related to extortion, journalists, especially investigative journalists, need to have easy access to information.
All controversial sections of the DSA, which have become a threat to investigative journalism, should be repealed and the Official Secrets Act 1923 should be repealed and owners need to ensure that journalists who work on media management policy and editorial decision-making enjoy effective freedom, he added.