THE World Press Freedom Day passed yesterday projecting a year-long thematic emphasis on 'Journalism Thrives'. Yes, journalism thrives against stifling odds placed on its way by state or non-state actors; and it ought to prevail against injustice by disseminating news, views, investigative output in greater public interest. And, because media is on an exponential growth trajectory with its multi-faceted dimensions including digitalisation, the questions of journalistic freedom and operational safety merit urgent consideration of all concerned.
Actually, this year's press freedom theme is set against the backdrop of journalistic profession being fraught with risks world-wide. Bangladesh is turning out to be no exception we have to say, even though we have had a vibrant media, especially since restoration of democracy in 1991.
The latest case in point is the attitude and stance taken by ruling party elements on journalists covering the just-concluded three city corporation polls. On the poll day, supporters of ruling-party backed candidates physically assaulted six journalists, intimidated 15 others from discharging their duties. The police stood by as mere spectators.
Just to gauge the risks journalists are exposed to, according to human rights organisation Ain-O-Salish Kendra, 11 journalists fell prey to police oppression, harassment and intimidation from January to March this year. To allude to the Paris-based international organisation, Reporters Without Borders' press freedom index, 2014, Bangladesh ranked 146 among 180 countries. This is hardly good going compared with Bhutan, Maldives, India and Nepal which have outscored us.
The media is expanding which points to an increasing diversity and volume of information and visuals. Governments tend to equate rising flow of information with free flow of information. A line needs to be drawn there.