The plight of Journalists in Bangladesh in the age of Covid-19


Eidul Azha, a sacrificial festival for the Muslim, is due in Bangladesh on Saturday and many other countries. It is one of the two largest Islamic festivals. The majority Muslim Bangladesh celebrates the religious gala with due festive mood and share sacrificial meats with other Muslims, especially the poor.

This year the Eidul Azha knocks the door of the Muslims with a difference amid pandemic Covid-19. The pandemic caused a serious blow to the economy of Bangladesh, and the rest of the world, affecting people of various professions. Journalism is one of the worst professions which was victimized by the pandemic in the country.

In Bangladesh, journalists are always neglected although they serve the people very responsibly. Their wages are poorer compared to other professions. Only a few media outlets pay handsome amounts of money to their journalists as their salaries fulfilling the government declared wage board.

That is why; most of the journalists in Bangladesh are now facing another blow to their economy caused hardship in the age of Covid-19.

Germany based media outlet Deutsche Welle, in its recent story stated that at least four thousand journalists and media workers are in peril in Bangladesh. ‘At least 600 journalists were sacked after the outbreak of the Covid-19,’ the report added.

Quoting an organization that works in the field of welfare of journalists, the media outlet reported- only 6-7 media outlets are sincere about the welfare of their journalists, while the rest are not.

As per the disclosure of the Information Minister at the National Parliament in January 2018, there are 3,025 registered print media in Bangladesh and 1,191 of them are daily newspapers. Of the dailies, 470 are based in the capital city, Dhaka.

As of 2015, the Ministry of Information had licensed 28 private organizations for FM broadcasting, and the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission had assigned FM broadcasting spectrum to 25 of them.

Several thousand journalists are working at these media outlets now. Except for a few, the rest of the journalists are now passing harder lives. Some media outlets have stopped giving salaries to journalists who work outside their head offices. And some have cut the salary structure. On the contrary, the owners of some media outlets were seen donating huge amounts of money to the government for the victims of Covid -19. Even some paid editors- who are vocal against non- payments of garments workers and other factory workers and so on- are not seem to be cordial about the welfare of their journalists. They did not even make a single phone call to their journalists outside their respective desks till the Eid Day after the outbreak of the Covid-19.

Facing this crucial situation, journalists across the country are serving their profession `voluntarily’ risking their lives.

DW reported that a total of 644 journalists were infected with Covid-19 while 25 journalists died from symptoms of the pandemic.

Mohammad Abdullah, secretary general secretary, Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists told me that the government has given a lump sum amount of money as Covid-19 stimulation package to 1,500 journalists excluding those who are critical of the government.

A vast number of journalists are out of the stimulation package.

Journalists who are not paying their salaries, and who are given a portion of their salaries, are facing a worse economical crisis. Journalists have to wage as the pandemic knocked the media industry. Existence of journalism in Bangladesh is now a question.

Saifur Rahman Saif is a Bangladeshi journalist. He works at New Age, a popular newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]



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