Journalists have remained on the frontlines of the Covid-19 crisis, risking their lives, and ensuring that we remain informed
As we are more than well aware, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in devastating losses for the global economy, with countries all across the world, including Bangladesh, experiencing massive declines in rates of economic growth and an increase in the rate of unemployment.
But we commend the Bangladeshi government for responding swiftly to the situation, disbursing thousands of crores of taka’s worth of stimulus packages, seeking to address not only the needs of vulnerable groups of people, but also vulnerable industries, whose losses have contributed to increasing unemployment.
The newspaper industry has been no different, with sales having dropped by two-thirds during the lockdown, exacerbated by its already waning sources of revenue due to increasing digitization, leading to severe cost-cutting measures and leaving journalists across the country vulnerable.
It is in light of this that we cannot help but wholeheartedly stand by the Newspapers Owners’ Association of Bangladesh (NOAB)’s decision to request for government support moving forward.
One of the more important requests relates to the fact that that the newspaper industry has to pay 35% -- reduced to 32.5% this year -- corporate tax, whereas sectors such as RMG have been paying 10-12%.
It is unfortunate that, even during a global pandemic caused by a disease about which little is yet known, newspapers and their employees are neglected -- especially when one considers how journalists have remained on the frontlines of the Covid-19 crisis, risking their lives and ensuring that we remain informed on the matter at the same time.
Additionally, despite digital media’s ease of access and growing popularity, when it comes to the reliability of the information provided, print media continues to maintain higher standards, not to mention the fact that many Bangladeshis still have no access to smart devices or the internet.
It is high time that we understood the crucial role newspapers play as part of a free press, fighting for the truth and keeping one of the core tenets of democracy alive. Now, it is time for us to fight for them.