The topics at hand were about how journalism has been affected by Covid realism, what role is the government playing, and the pros/cons of future journalism, as it evolves into digital platforms with a truly global reach, the likes of which we have never seen before.
The fourth edition of the two-day "etworking Conference on News Media in Bangladesh under Covid-19: Role of State and Media Educators" began online Friday.
The Department of Journalism and Media Studies of Jahangirnagar University (JU) and DW Academy have jointly organised the conference.
State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Murad Hassan inaugurated the programme as chief guest.
JU Vice-Chancellor Dr Farzana Islam addressed the function as the guest of honour. Dr Golam Rahman, editor of Ajker Patrika, Dr Mozammel Hoque, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, spoke as special guests.
Michael Karhausen, DW Asia and Europe department head, Hannah Schempf, press attaché of the German Embassy in Dhaka, also addressed the inaugural function.
Ameena Islam, convenor of the conference and associate professor of journalism and media studies department of JU, conducted the inaugural session, which was presided over by the department's chairperson Sheikh Adnan Fahad.
Teachers and students of journalism, media studies and mass communication departments of different public and private universities, working journalists, and representatives of research bodies were present at the inaugural session.
The two-day conference will be conducted through four panel discussions. At the concluding session, Priya Esselborn, country manager of DW Bangladesh, will give the vote of thanks. In the light of recommendations put forward by the discussants, a declaration will be made at the conference.
Addressing the inaugural session, Dr Murad emphasised integrated efforts among all stakeholders, including media owners, editors, journalists, journalists' unions to ensure professionalism in journalism and other media practices.
"The government recently formed a journalist welfare fund to help the journalists who are facing difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, the government already announced the ninth wage board [for journalists], " the state minister said.
"However, can the government alone ensure professionalism and ideal conditions in journalism?" Dr Murad asked the media owners and practitioners.
In reply, Dr Golam Rahman said the government has to ensure full freedom of the press, while the media owners, journalists and other stakeholders need to act professionally to ensure an ideal condition of journalism in Bangladesh.
Also, Dr Golam Rahman, Dr Shafiul Alam Bhuiyan and Dr Mofizur Rhaman emphasised looking into the patterns of media ownership.
Dr Farzana called for fact-based journalism for establishing truth all across society. She also emphasised doing news stories on the positive happenings in the society and country.
The first panel discussion was held under the title "Journalism in Bangladesh under Covid-19: Realities to Face and the Way-outs."
Dr Mofizur of Dhaka University's mass communication and journalism department, Probhash Amin, head of news at ATN News, Nadia Sharmin, senior reporter of Ekattor TV, and Fakaruddin Jewel, head of NTV, spoke as panellists of the session.
The second session of the first day was conducted under the title "Journalism on Digital Platforms under Covid-19: Challenges and Dwelling with Falsehoods."
Saiful Alam Chowdury, associate professor of Dhaka University's mass communication and journalism department, M Abul Kalam Azad, special story editor of Dhaka Tribune and founder of fact-checking platform factkhuji.org, Suliman Niloy, acting head of multimedia content at bdnews24.com, and Maksuda Aziz, mobile journalism specialist of Daily Prothom Alo, spoke at the session as panellists.
A good number of teachers, researchers and students from different public and private universities and working journalists took part in the sessions. Channel I online and Ajker Patrika are the media partners of the conference.
Two other sessions titled "Safety and job security of journalists during and post-Covid Bangladesh: Role of editors and media educators" and "Creating environment for media and communication research and sources of funding in the post-Covid Bangladesh" will be held Saturday.