Disinformation Risk Assessment: The Online News Market in Bangladesh
Digitally Right has partnered with the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) to launch a pioneering report titled “Disinformation Risk Assessment: The Online News Market in Bangladesh”. The report provides insights on the dangers of disinformation in Bangladesh’s media industry, based on a study of 33 news domains.
The report was unveiled during an online event on March 28th, 2023, which included presentations from the Research Director at the Global Disinformation Index, and Digitally Right’s Founder, Miraj Ahmed Chowdhury. The event featured Shafiqul Alam, Bureau Chief at AFP, Dhaka, Ayesha Kabir, Head of English, Prothom Alo, Talat Mamun, Executive Director, Channel 24, and Saiful Alam Chowdhury, Associate Professor, Dhaka University, who shared their insights on the report.
The report presents GDI’s findings on disinformation risks in the media market of Bangladesh, based on a study of 33 news domains, and aims to provide an overview of the media market as a whole and its strengths and vulnerabilities.
The assessment found that all 33 domains had a medium to high risk of disinforming their users, including respected sites known for their independent news coverage. Sixteen sites had a high disinformation risk rating, and half of the sample had a medium risk rating. However, no site performed so poorly as to earn a maximum risk rating.
According to the findings, the main source of disinformation risk in Bangladesh media sites is the lack of transparent operational checks and balances. While all sites scored strongly in presenting unbiased, neutral, and accurate articles, 28 sites had no form of accuracy policy on their websites. Most sites lacked policies for editorial checks and balances including for post publication corrections, comment moderation, byline information, fact checking, and sourcing as well as clarity on funding and ownership structures.
The report highlights operational shortcomings that are hampering trust and transparency in the media industry. Recommendations made in the report urge news sites to adopt and make transparent universal standards of good journalistic practices, such as publishing beneficial ownership and funding information, maintaining a corrections policy, publishing bylines policies, and sourcing guidelines.
The findings show many of the operational issues afflicting the Bangladeshi websites can easily be fixed by adopting and making transparent universal standards of good journalistic practices as agreed upon by the Journalism Trust Initiative.
This risk-rating framework for Bangladesh provides crucial information to enable decision-makers to stem the tide of money that incentivizes and sustains disinformation and the report is aimed to encourage greater transparency and accountability in Bangladesh’s media landscape.
Download the report here.