Mainul Islam Nasim
What do we mean by mainstream journalists? What is the meaning of mainstream? How many types of streams are there and what are their definitions? Do these streams belong to Bangladesh or foreign countries? What is the criteria for becoming mainstream journalists in Europe? Does any media professional of Bangladesh belong to Europe's mainstream journalism? It is necessary to clarify these points.
First let us address the topic regarding Bangladesh's mainstream journalism. In fact there is no mainstream in Bangladesh regarding journalism. Here everything runs along with the same stream. However, there is an unwritten classification of front-ranking newspapers, television channels and online portals in Bangladesh. Now the question is whether the journalists of these media outlets who send news to Bangladesh from abroad belong to mainstream media or not.
100% confirmed and authentic answer to the above question is "no". That means the journalists of Bangladeshi newspapers, television channels and online portals who work in Europe is no part of Europe's mainstream media. Media workers who are officially registered journalists in Europe and who are working for European media outlets with government approval belong to Europe's mainstream media.
Now another question comes up whether there is not a single mainstream Bangladeshi journalist in Europe or not. Its answer is "yes" but that is too limited in number. Other than these journalists, Bangladeshi media workers who are located in Europe are theoretically and practically no part of Europe's mainstream media.
I hope I have been able to elucidate the mainstream media issue. Now let's take a look at the rising number of journalist organizations in Europe. During the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, there has been a booming rise in the proliferation of Bangladeshi media organizations in Europe. Now there are more Bangladeshi journalist organizations in Europe than the number of Bangladeshi media workers over there which is like more doctors than patients. Is there any vaccine to overcome this predicament?
Publicly funded news media also tend to be more trusted than privately funded organizations - both in general and when it comes to specific news outlets. For example, about three-quarters (73%) of Swedes and 71% of British adults say they trust the public media more than private. In Spain and Italy, publics are more divided on the issue.
Beyond general trust, the survey also asked respondents about eight country-specific, individual news sources, including the major publicly funded news organizations in each of the eight countries.
If they had heard of an outlet, they were then asked if they trusted or distrusted it. The data show that at least nine-in-ten in each country are aware of the public news entity or entities. And, the trust levels for each are among the highest for any of the eight outlets asked about in each country. At the higher end, for instance, 90% of Swedes and 89% of Dutch adults say they trust their respective public broadcaster.
Italians (65%) and Spaniards (57%) also trust their public news media more than they distrust them, but to a lesser degree than their European counterparts. In Spain, even though a majority trusts the public broadcaster, Televisión Española (TVE), slightly more people (64%) express trust in the private television outlet Antena 3. For most other countries, trust in the public news entity is higher than for any private outlets asked about.
Populist sympathies in the countries surveyed are a more consistent divider than left-right political identity, when it comes to trust in public news media. This is in line with other findings in the main report on news media attitudes and habits in Western Europe that also reveal sharper divides based on populist views than left-right ideology.
In all eight European countries studied, those who embrace populist views are less likely to trust their public news media than those who do not espouse these views. (Populism is defined in this study as the belief that ordinary people would do a better job solving their country's problems, and that most elected officials are indifferent to "what people like me think.") The trust difference between those who hold populist views and those who do not ranges from a low of 9 percentage points in Denmark to 30 points in Spain.
A left-right ideological divide in trust of public news organizations also shows up in five of the eight countries. In four of these five countries, the differences are about equal to or smaller than those based on populist views, ranging from 8 percentage points in Sweden to 14 points in Italy. Spain is the exception: There, the left-right difference is larger than the divide based on populist leanings - 74% of right-aligned adults in Spain trust TVE compared with 32% of left-aligned adults, a 42-point difference.
We are living in a globalized world where digital technology is at everyone's fingertips. There are lots of propaganda, campaign, advertisements and rumours being spearheaded everywhere. Confusion is galore over the distinctions between commercial, political and editorial content. It leads to the advent of an ambience where freedom of speech and freedom of press become shaky.
Troublesome laws are being enacted in some countries in this situation to harass journalists. In our country different aspects of Digital Security Act are often debated.
Journalists at times come under physical, legal and professional threats when they write against crimes, corruption, financial graft and irregularities, banking scams, radical outfits, and repression etcetera. Editors and owners of different newspapers and media outlets also face hazards for similar reasons.
The coronavirus pandemic is further threatening media freedom worldwide, according to the annual World Press Freedom Index.
Compiled by Reporters without Borders, the 180-country index notes a correlation between a country's ranking and its response to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Both China at 177 and Iran, which dropped three places to 173, censored their coronavirus outbreaks.
Norway again topped the index while North Korea came in last.
In Iraq, which dropped by six to 162, the government stripped the Reuters news agency of its license for three months after it published a story questioning official coronavirus figures.
However, it should be remembered that journalists don't only prepare reports and publish news items. Lots of journalists across the globe are actively engaged with scholarly activities like writing articles, giving lectures at universities, speaking at conferences and doing research works. The extent of journalism has become much wider last several years through the expansion of online news portals and satellite television channels. People are now accustomed to both newspapers' printed as well as soft versions. Journalists have certain specialties like politics, international affairs, education, health, literature, business, fashion, sports etc. Some journalists are so versatile and rich with wisdom that they can at a time work on all fields of media.
Being able to work with an unbiased outlook is the most valuable thing for journalists. In the current world plagued with misinterpretations, falsehood and malice, honest media professionals can play effective roles for exposing the truth by vanquishing the dissemination of fallacies.
From the perspectives of Bangladesh, journalists from our own country as well as from some other states helped us extensively during our glorious Liberation War of 1971. They illustrated the vices, atrocities and war crimes committed by Pakistan Army to the global masses and thus acquired universal support in our favor which expedited our independence. People engaged with Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, the wartime radio station during 1971, whetted our freedom fighters' confidence and enthusiasm.
Mainul Islam Nasim is an online activist and a columnist.