Dhaka,  Wednesday
29 May 2024

Unpaid journalists and paid journalism!

Niamul Aziz sadeq

Published: 09:43, 8 April 2024

Update: 11:38, 8 April 2024

Unpaid journalists and paid journalism!

Photo : Messenger

As journalism is regarded as the fourth estate, it is also seen as a pivotal instrument for transparency among governments and other stakeholders. In Bangladesh, months of unpaid wages inflict profound suffering on journalists’ families and lives. The crucial thing is that this neglect often comes from media organisations themselves, threatening not only the livelihoods of dedicated journalists but also the very essence of the media itself.

Needless to say, journalism is more than just a vocation that requires unshakable dedication and, frequently, the determination to put oneself in danger in order to discover the truth. However, the failure to pay journalists for their invaluable work sends a dire message: journalists lose their interest in this sector as they find themselves pushed into the shadows of financial insecurity.

Why is this the case? There is a claim that the proliferation of print and electronic media leads to jobs that require very little in the way of professional training. Many television networks were granted broadcast licenses without considering how they would generate revenue. For this reason, a station or media authority will often fire one-third of its staff without cause after a few days.

Families of journalists who have not received salaries for several months are forced to endure financial strain, unable to meet their basic needs. Journalists themselves grapple with stress, anxiety, and, in some cases, a sense of betrayal from the industry they love. These conditions not only compromise the quality of journalism but also endanger the mental and emotional well-being of those who practice it.

Additionally, media professionals work with criminally corrupt syndicates to protect their financial interests. Both unskilled and corrupt individuals attempt to take advantage of these opportunities for financial gain. Furthermore, a wealthy individual can pay a hefty sum of money to purchase some journalists for their own purposes. Narratives that criticize corrupt individuals have been sanitized. Wealthy folks have been known to threaten journalists on occasion. Thus, people attempt to select the less risky option over the more difficult one.

Furthermore, the public's perception of a media institution might be negatively impacted by a damaged reputation. Governments, civil society organisations, and media outlets must act decisively to address this situation. Given the critical role that journalists play in society, media organisations should place a high priority on paying their staff members on time. Governments ought to enact procedures and enforce labour laws to guarantee journalists receive just compensation. Civil society can promote journalistic rights and increase public awareness of this subject.

Furthermore, because conventional media is underfunded and lacks expertise, it is unable to address the false and misleading content that appears on social media. Occasionally, they are also prevented from opposing it by the nature of the invested cash. Some journalists attempt to counter false news with sensationalised stories rather than addressing it head-on. Journalism began as a means of representing the common people against the abuses of hegemony and power. Like many other sections of the world, Bangladeshi journalism appears to have lost its way after forgetting its genetic potential. Self-censorship is a prevalent fault within it.

Bangladesh is the 11th most corrupted country, with law enforcement agencies as well as public service organizations (passport offices, land mutation offices) at the top of the list. Journalists, especially those from peripheral areas, have been taking bribes from powerful people or organizations. They legalized the corruption by delving into their illegal money or wealth. There has been a mutual understanding among the local police administration and journalists. Why is this happening?
So, we think only journalists are solely responsible for this type of corruption. Is there any other stakeholder who would be liable? Of course, yes. Some media houses haven’t paid their local journalists for years. Therefore, there has been a tradition from different television channels that local correspondents had to pay for their recruitment.

Moreover, if corruption has taken place, local reporters and media managers should milk the opportunities and take their share from the corrupted person. Some of the media's higher authorities know all the stories but could not take any action because of the long salaries due.

Another important aspect which has been overtaking by many that the average portfolio of a Bangladeshi journalist is a young male Muslim (89.1%) in their mid-thirties holding a college or university degree. Women’s participation in this craft is still disappointingly low, making up only 10.9 percent of the total number of professional journalists. On average, Bangladeshi journalists are 36.67 years old; the median age is 35, indicating the recent entry of a large number of young people into this vocation.

The role of media is undoubtedly an influential catalyst in each sphere of the global scenario of the 21st century. The media, or press, is also in a very powerful position in Bangladesh. But media professionals in Bangladesh have to face lots of obstacles to perform their jobs. Especially journalists in print media do their jobs with poor salary and nominal facilities and face lots of pressures and threats from different corners. Moreover, there is little or no job security in this profession. Such problematic situations compel a big portion of journalists to shift themselves to other lucrative professions. Despite such hindrances, the ratio of journalists is not very

The ratio of journalists is not very few who want to continue their job considering it as a challenging and glamorous one.
To focus on such problems and prospects of print journalism in Bangladesh, an assessment has been presented here in the light of direct interviews from journalists from different national dailies.

The writer is a senior reporter at NTV.