News coverage in Bangladesh is very politically charged and polarizing, with the media favoring either the ruling party or the opposition. Independent, non-partisan journalism is thus rare. Topics are chosen in accordance with the economic interests of corporate groups that support various media outlets, while state radio is under the direct control of the Ministry of Information. Critical reporting is under threat due to assaults and intimidation, or in some cases, even torture and murder. Since the start of 2015, five bloggers who were branded as "atheists" have been brutally murdered because they dared to criticize the rise of religious extremism. Many journalists now practice self-censorship. Media representatives, opposition politicians and the NGO Transparency International say that a new media law passed in August 2014 has further limited press freedom. As a result, people in Bangladesh are limited in exercising their right to freely access information.
The work of the DW Akademie in Bangladesh focuses on improving the quality of reporting as well as supporting community radio stations. DW Akademie is helping to create a network of local radio stations so that regional reporters can support one another and exchange program content. Together with universities in Rajshahi and Chittagong, DW Akademie is working on curriculum reform in order to improve journalism training and education standards. Lecturers are receiving further professional and methodological qualification, and thanks to close cooperation with universities in Germany, are learning how to make their lessons more practice-oriented and interactive.
Funding sources: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), German Foreign Office (AA)
Country coordinator: Priya Esselborn
Operational locations: Rajshahi, Chittagong, Dhaka
Local partners: Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC), Management and Resources Development Initiative (MRDI), Radio Padma, Radio Sagor Giri, University of Chittagong, University of Rajshahi