Responsible journalism honoured in Bangladesh

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Responsible journalism honoured in Bangladesh

14 March 2008

Award winners of the UNAIDS Bangladesh Media Awards, 13 March 2008.
Credit: UNAIDS

Four outstanding journalists were honoured on 13 March in Bangladesh for their exceptional contribution to the AIDS response through journalism at the first ever UNAIDS Bangladesh Media Awards.

There is a low HIV prevalence in Bangladesh. As a consequence, there is a relatively low level of knowledge and awareness about the disease among the general public and people living with HIV experience considerable social stigma and discrimination.

At the backdrop of the context described above, UNAIDS office in Bangladesh, in collaboration with the National Media Forum on HIV and AIDS (APLF initiative), created a platform from which ethical and responsible journalism is encouraged. The awards went to those who promoted the rights of most at risk populations and people infected and affected by HIV.

“The media in Bangladesh and elsewhere have a great responsibility to not contribute to a culture of discrimination by perpetuating stereotypes,” said UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Dan Odallo. “These award winners offer excellent examples of sensitive and informed journalism.”

First place for National Print media award was won by investigative journalist Ms. Qurratul-Ain-Tahmina for a three-part series called “Bangladesh at risk of AIDS”. Qurratul-Ain-Tahmina has been highlighting human rights and other important social issues in the media for several years.

Another winner was a popular national radio station Radio Today who took first prize in the Electronic media category for a catchy public service announcement on an HIV prevention broadcast.

A panel of guests addressed the awards ceremony. Credit: UNAIDS

The Directorate General Health, Dr S. M. Mustafa Anower highlighted the significance of the media’s role in the AIDS response. “60% of people in Bangladesh receive most of their news and information through print and electronic media, therefore media is a most powerful vehicle in the fight against HIV and AIDS,” he said.

Honourable Advisor, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Dr A M M Shawkat Ali, encouraged more media training for journalists who in rural areas to ensure that responsible journalism reaches everyone in Bangladesh.

“Awareness always needs to be created at the grass roots level with simple and easy to understand messages,” he said. With a low adult literacy rate of 53%, this is considered particularly important in Bangladesh.

APLF Champion for AIDS, singer Runa Lailor, congratulated the Standard Charted Bank for their financial support of the award and their partnership in the fight against AIDS. She expressed the hope that this social responsibility initiative will encourage other journalists to increase the frequency and sensitivity of coverage of AIDS issues in the media.

UNAIDS Bangladesh plans to hold the Media Awards annually.