Editors’ Council seeks govt solutions on newspapers’ publication of news online

The Editors' Council today sought speedy and logical solution from the government regarding newspapers' publication of news online.

A statement signed by general secretary Naem Nizam on behalf of the council said the government decided that newspapers require separate approval for publishing news online.

"First of all, we think that the way the country's television channels publish news online without any separate approval, the same rules are logical for newspapers as well. Because, newspapers are published with the approval of the government just like the television channels. Such a decision was taken at a joint meeting of the Ministry of Information and the concerned organisations," the statement read.

"A list of 34 news portals were published for registration in the first phase of online news portals. We have noticed with surprise that the names of online portals of the country's widely circulated, leading, and reputed newspapers are missing in the list. We expect a speedy and logical solution from the government in this regard," the statement said.

The statement protested the Digital Security Act and demanded required amendment on an urgent basis.

It has been "noticed with great concern that the Digital Security Act is being used purposefully as the incidents of filing cases and harassment against journalists have increased at an alarming rate across the country. We strongly oppose it," the statement said.

"There is no safeguard for newspapers and journalists. We think that the necessary amendment of the digital law is very urgent," it said.

The statement said the newspaper industry is facing an uncertain future across the globe amid the coronavirus crisis, which has badly affected the economy.

"The newspaper industry of Bangladesh is facing the same situation. The number of readers and circulation of newspapers has decreased. Advertisements have also declined alarmingly. Newspapers are trying different ways to survive. It is not certain how much this uncertainty can be handled even by reducing the number of pages and administrative and other expenses. Bangladeshi newspapers have never witnessed such a situation before. We have continued publication despite all the adversities. We didn't allow the task of conveying the news to the readers to be hindered. We are working to keep this uncertain industry alive."

Newspapers are recognised as a service-based industry in Bangladesh, the statement said.  

"Its first goal is to serve the country and people on a larger scale. But the newspaper industry has never received any effective help and cooperation from the government for this purpose. The newspaper industry is deprived of government support that the profit-making general industries have received. The newspapers made demands to the concerned ministries at different times. But sadly, it has been noticed that the demands have never been taken into account by the government. On the contrary, the service industry earned indifference and an uncooperative attitude," it added.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, journalists are risking their lives to meet their responsibility towards people.

"But day by day, their professional risk is increasing. They have to work in the face of various pressures and threats. News organisations and news workers are being forced to resort to self-censorship, which is extremely negative for the development of a healthy, transparent administrative and social system," the statement added.

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