At least 275 out of 456 local newspapers (60.31%) -- published from the different upazilas, districts and divisional cities across the country -- have shut down completely amid the fallout from Covid-19 pandemic.
Some 18 local newspapers are published only when those could manage money for it, or receive advertisement, according to the findings of a survey of the Bangladesh Independent Journalists Network (BIJN) revealed today.
Almost all local newspapers went out of circulation soon after the Covid-19 outbreak began in March, the survey revealed, adding that less than half of those newspapers later managed to resume circulation, including some which are no longer published regularly.
Not a single newspaper managed to resume operation in at least six districts, according to the survey.
Financial crisis emerging from the pandemic situation has been termed as the main reason behind the shutting down of so many local newspapers.
The survey was conducted between June 23 and July 2 on 456 local daily and weekly newspapers which used to be published from 34 districts under Dhaka, Rajshahi, Khulna, Rangpur, Barishal and Sylhet divisions.
BIJN conducted the survey in a bid to bring the local newspapers published outside Dhaka metropolitan area under a research to get an idea about their operation, circulation, reach to audience, and pattern of published news reports.
The body also conducted a survey on 287 individuals from the surveyed localities and 86.41 percent of them opined that the local newspapers played an important role to publish reports on the different local issues including corruption, misuse of power and influence, crimes and violation of rules and regulations, which played a role in enhancing awareness among the people.
Since many of those newspapers went out of circulations, the irregularities of the local public representatives, among others, could not be highlighted enough, they said, adding that if the newspapers continued to run, the culprits would have been under pressure and would be less prone to engage in irregularities.
If the situation continues, the scopes of media freedom would further narrow down, the respondents also said.
People will also lose interest in getting involved as journalists in independent, non-biased and free media, they added.