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UK high commissioner: Press freedom, journalists’ safety important during Covid-19 pandemic

  • Published at 10:29 pm July 28th, 2020
UK High Commissioner's workshop
Screenshot from the online workshop Collected

'People need journalists alive in order to keep them informed'

Javed Patel, acting British high commissioner to Bangladesh, on Monday emphasised the need to ensure press freedom and the safety of journalists during the Covid-19 pandemic.

People need journalists alive in order to keep them informed, he said.

Patel was speaking at the virtual inaugural session of a training workshop, “Covering Covid-19: Media training for youth journalists in Bangladesh.”

“There are many examples of disinformation being sprayed across the country in the last few months and what people need is the media, who will provide the facts and evidence,” said the acting British high commissioner.

 Citing a study by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), he said about 112 million social media posts related to Covid-19 had been posted in 64 languages in the last few months, and about 40% of them were from unreliable sources.  

One-third of social media posts had been reported as containing false or misleading information, while about 19 million tweets out of 50 million were deemed to have been manipulated, said Patel.

“It is time we stand by journalists, supporting and recognizing the value they add. Their role should be given priority to bring any particular issue to the public eye,” he added.

He said organising such a workshop would be beneficial for young journalists and improving the capability of journalists was important to hold policy makers to account.

Dhaka University Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Prof ASM Maksud Kamal attended the session as chief guest, while political science department Associate Professor Aynul Islam served as moderator. Prof Sadeka Halim, social sciences faculty dean and former information commissioner, was also present.

Over 50 university correspondents of various media outlets participated in the second session, while 50 others participated earlier this month. 

The social sciences faculty and Micro-governance Research Initiative of DU arranged the series of workshops for journalists in collaboration with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Washington DC, with the support of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and UKAID. 

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