- Strengthening The Capacity Of Journalists To Promote Freedom Of Religion And Peace
- Prgramme For Promoting Digital And Physical Safety Of Journalists
- Programme for Supporting Human Rights Defenders Working for Women’s and Girls’ Rights in Bangladesh
- Supporting Journalists to Promote Freedom of Religion
- Awareness, Advocacy and Action: Promoting Safety of Journalists in Bangladesh
- Programme for Journalists on Understanding Climate Change Issues and Quality Reporting
- Rural Media Development for Promoting Democracy and Human Rights in Bangladesh
- Media Fellowship for Developing Female Journalists
- Understanding Right to Information for Accurate and Fair Journalism
- Development Programme for the Women Journalists
Strengthening The Capacity Of Journalists To Promote Freedom Of Religion And Peace
Project period: 2019- 2020
Funded by: Canadian High Commission
The project has focused on news reporters who are working at remote rural districts and local media gatekeepers, including editors, executive editors, news editors, news-room editors of local newspapers and online news portals.
As part of the project activities, News Network sensitizes media professionals on the importance religious freedom and peace and improves their professional abilities.
With improved capacities, the media professionals will be able to publish quality news and feature items and raise awareness among the people for effective engagement of relevant stakeholders in countering intolerance and ensure peace in the society.
Prgramme For Promoting Digital And Physical Safety Of Journalists
Journalists across the world are facing pressure and threats while covering news on conflict sensitive issues. Journalists and media actors in Bangladesh are also not immune. They are facing threats and risks from hackers, criminal groups and religious extremists. Compounding this increasingly hostile operational environment is a sector influenced by corporate ownership and political allegiances, resulting in self-censorship at the individual journalist and editorial levels.
The attack on freedom of expression has escalated recently with introduction of digital security act which is being used indiscriminately to harass journalists and other media activists.
The rise of hacking risks, violence by extremist groups and heightened state surveillance on journalists and bloggers have created a sense of urgency for greater digital, physical, psychosocial and legal security among journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders.
To face the challenges News Network, with support from Internews, has launched a project in April, 2020 in five divisions in Bangladesh with a view to strengthening the digital safety and physical security for journalists and access to resources.
The project activities includes Training of Journalists’ Trainers (ToT) and field level training workshops for media people, working for local and national print and electronic media on digital and physical safety of journalists, aims to foster media independence in Bangladesh by strengthening investigative journalism capacity focusing on building skills in digital and physical security, reducing self-censorship, and addressing lack of media freedoms.
The programmes will take place in the capital city Dhaka and four other divisional headquarters of Chattogram, Sylhet, Khulna and Barisal. More than one hundred journalists will be benefited from the project as well as they will share their experience and learnings from the programme among their colleagues with multiple effects.
Programme for Supporting Human Rights Defenders Working for Women’s and Girls’ Rights in Bangladesh
However, the Government of Bangladesh has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations against Women and passed the Women Development Policy 2011 to ensure strong protection for women and girls’ rights. But this has not changed the reality in the field yet.
An unacceptable social attitude among a section of the society and officials towards women and girls is still there. Weak enforcement of women-friendly laws and regulations, slow but insufficient judicial protection, inadequate social protest and protection, poor family environment, poor and inadequate intervention from human rights defenders (HRDs) and weak voice of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are the major impediments in ensuring women’s and girls’ rights in Bangladesh.
News Networked has teamed up with the European Union in Bangladesh to address these issues and has taken up a comprehensive project.
The Project entitled, “Supporting Human Rights Defenders Working for Women’s and Girls’ Rights in Bangladesh” is a three-year project started in January 2018. The project funded by the European Union and implemented by the News Network in partnership with Udayankur Seba Sangstha (USS) in the rural areas of eight districts along the Indo-Bangla international border namely Satkhira, Jessore, Rajshahi, Niphamari, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Lalmonirhat and Kurigram.
The overall objective of the project is to provide support to Women Human Rights Defenders and/or Human Rights Defenders (W/HRDs) working for women’s and girls’ rights in Bangladesh.
The project has been working to recognise and promote the role of WHRDs in the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms and to protect them addressing the challenges, risks and threats that they may face.
It also supports and protects WHRDs at risk due to their work for the promotion and protection of the full enjoyment of women’s and girls’ rights.
Media professionals of print, electronic and social media including potential young women journalists and rural media gatekeepers-editors, news editors and executive editors, rural journalists and creative women journalists are the targeted beneficiaries of the project.
Rural civil society organisations’ leaders, both male and female, and rural religious leaders who are working to promote women’s and girls’ rights are also its beneficiaries.
Supporting Journalists to Promote Freedom of Religion
Project period: 15 September 2017- 15 April 2018
News Network implemented the project, with financial support from Canada Fund for Local Initiatives-CFLI, to promote freedom of religion through media action. Its target group was the local news reporters, working for local and national mainstream print and electronic media and the media gatekeepers (i.e. editors, executive editors, news editors, news-room editors) of local newspapers and online news portals. Objectives of the project were to support local journalists to promote freedom of religion and peaceful coexistence of people of all religions through; (i) strengthening the professional capacity of local journalists/news reporters and (ii) organising interactive meetings with media gatekeepers (publishers, editors and news editors) of local media to discuss the issues and their impact and publishing items with respect to freedom of religion and human rights. The project was implemented in Rangpur, Jashore and Khulna districts.
The initiative was the first of its kind in Bangladesh, particularly for the media people. It has drawn attention of policy planners, prominent civil society members, rights-based groups, other relevant stakeholders and received appreciations from various levels with a plea to continue the programme in other districts of the country. Such project can be replicated in other countries where freedom of religion often faces challenges.
Awareness, Advocacy and Action: Promoting Safety of Journalists in Bangladesh
The News Network implemented the project, with financial support from the UNESCO, to make journalists more aware about safety measures and 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, journalist’s safety and/or self-regulation, for on-line and/or off-line media, through favourable policies and/or practices; and (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 districts of Faridpur, Sylhet, Jessore and Satkhira. The key activities of the project were (i) raising the level of understanding of safety measures and improving capacity of journalists for reporting from danger zones;(ii) analysing cases of violence against journalists and examine how those could be avoided;(iii) training journalists to report on crimes against journalists;(iv) establishing a peer network for monitoring crimes against journalists and advocating journalists’ safety in Bangladesh. A total of 60 male and female journalists were trained up under the project.
News Network believes that journalists who participated in the programme would continue the initiative beyond the project period as part of their professional and social responsibility. They would also keep sharing their learning with their colleagues and friends.
Programme for Journalists on Understanding Climate Change Issues and Quality Reporting
News Network implemented the project in climate change affected districts of Rajshahi, Cox’s Bazar, Bagerhat and Khulna in Bangladesh. Objectives of the project were to sensitise journalists on climate change issues and improve their professional ability for quality reporting.
News Network believes that journalists have a greater role in making people more aware and can develop mass opinion for adapting to climate change. Policy planners, officials, public representatives are still getting benefits from reports of trained journalists. Above all, they are playing the role of watchdog on environmental issues and governance.
Agendas of the action were; (i) to make local journalists and editors better understanding on climate change issues, how they affect the country, their adaptation and environmental governance and (ii) skill development training of local journalists for better news reporting on climate change issues.
The one-year project was successfully completed in December 2015. Under the project a total of 60 journalists, including 53 male and 7 females were trained up accordingly.
Rural Media Development for Promoting Democracy and Human Rights in Bangladesh
Funded by: UNDEF
Bangladesh still has to go a long way to establish democracy and ensure human rights as enshrined in the country’s constitution.
In a democratic society, media is considered to be the fourth estate of the nation. It continuously plays a vital role by monitoring the policies and activities of the government, policymakers, officials and politicians. Also, it ensures people’s access to information so that they can make an informed decision, an essential ingredient of democracy in any country.
With this understanding, News Network implemented a project titled “Rural Media Development for Promoting Democracy and Human Rights in Bangladesh” in 12 remote districts of the country. The project was aimed at improving the media and civil society organisations’(CSOs) ability to report on democracy and human rights issues especially in rural areas, and thereby raising public awareness of their rights. The key activities of the project were: (i) training and sensitising rural journalists on democracy and human rights issues; (ii) reporting competition among trained journalists; (iv) media training for CSOs staff; (v) interactive meetings of trained journalists and CSOs officials and workers in project areas; (vi) web advocacy for promoting democracy and human rights; and (vii) developing network among trained journalists and CSOs.
With financial assistance from the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) the News Network addressed the project aimed at promoting democracy and human rights in project areas. Journalists and CSOs participating the programme emphasised on the need for replicating the programme in other districts of the country and form a platform to connect the beneficiaries. A total of 640 journalists and CSOs were sensitise and trained up under the project.
Media Fellowship for Developing Female Journalists
Project Period: 2014-2015
The objective of the project was to promote gender equality in media through awarding fellowship on practical journalism to young women graduates with a view to promoting and protecting women rights through developing women journalists in Bangladesh. The project resulted in (i) six months fellowship on journalism to 15 young women graduates (ii) increasing interests among the fellows to take up journalism as their profession, (iii) many of the fellows by this time joined various print and electronic media as journalists, (iv) developing women journalists devoted to human rights and (v) ensuring better reporting on women rights and violence against women by the women journalists.
Understanding Right to Information for Accurate and Fair Journalism
The 12 months project completed successfully in May 2014. Its objectives were to give better understanding on RTI to journalists. And, motivate them with a sense of social responsibility to pursue freedom of press, enhance their communicative skills, and multiply the information to their colleagues. The project was implemented in the country’s five divisional headquarters of Sylhet, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Chittagong. The two days’ workshop in each of the division was participated by 18 journalists. A total of 72 male and 18 females participated in the workshops. All the events were implemented in close cooperation with local media houses.
The project helped raise the knowledge of the participants/journalists, which made them more sensible about their professional responsibility. News Network hopes, their professional output would be more qualitative with accuracy in information. The workshops were very much interactive and participatory. Journalists who participated in the programme became more responsive, sensible and professional. They have shared their learning and knowledge to their colleagues.
Development Programme for the Women Journalists
This was a 12-month project. Objectives of the project was to encourage the young women to choose journalism as profession and promote gender equality in journalism profession in Bangladesh.
Under the project 20 young women graduates were awarded six-month fellowship on practical journalism. Senior journalists working for national and international news media, and experts were engaged to build up their courage and improve professional ability. Fellows were selected from across the country. The fellowship included 3-month in-house training and 3-month internship in major newspapers and TV Channels.
After in-house training the fellows were attached to the country’s major news media houses for doing a three-month internship. In each house there was a mentor to look after the fellows’ activities, performance and provided necessary advices for their development. Most of those fellows are now working in different media as journalists.