The media in Bangladesh is aggressive and vibrant. Journalists often play a bold role in exposing corruption and wrong-doings in the society. Their brave work earns them public admiration, but it also exposes them to threats on their life, harassment and insecurity. So, the safety of journalists has now become a major concern of the country and the world.
According to media rights groups, at least 27 journalists and bloggers have been killed in such attacks since the country’s independence in 1992 (CPJ,2015). In most cases, killers and attackers went unpunished and the motives were not clear.
To face the challenges, News Network with the support from UNESCO implemented the project to make journalists more aware about the safety measures and also ensure a constructive engagement of concerned stakeholders, individuals and organizations involved in advocacy to create a safe field for journalists. The objectives of the project were: (i) strengthening the environment for press freedom, journalistic safety and/or self-regulation, for on-line and/or off-line media, through favorable policies and/or practices; (ii) promoting good governance and transparency by developing pluralistic media institutions, including community media, and by building capacities of the media professionals.
The project was implemented in the following districts: Faridpur, Sylhet, Jessore and Satkhira. The key activities of the project included:
- Raising level of understanding of safety measures and improving capacity of journalists for reporting from danger zones;
- Analysing cases of violence against journalists to examine how they might have been avoided;
- Training journalists to report on crimes against journalists;
- Establishing a peer network for monitoring crimes against journalists and advocating journalists’ safety in Bangladesh.
News Network believes journalists who participated in the programme will continue the initiative beyond the project period as part of their professional and social responsibility. They will also keep sharing their learning with the colleagues and friends.