ISSN : 1997-1052 (Print)
2227-202X (Online)
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Journalism in Onset of COVID-19 Pandemic in Bangladesh: Governance and Coping Strategies of Newspaper Journalists
Rakib Ahmed, Uzzwal Kumar Mondal, Mridha Md. Shiblee Noman

This paper is about newspaper journalism practices under the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh. Based on two separate theories -- Communication Competence Theory, and Risk and Crisis Communication Management Theory, this study intends to understand the challenges that newspaper journalists faced while discharging their professional responsibilities and governing the newsroom operations during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh. In addition, this paper explores the strategies that journalists followed to adapt to the changed working environments and engage themselves in the processes of news production and publication. The authors conducted in-depth interviews with 12 journalists including three news managers from three national dailies -- daily Prothom Alo, daily Samakal, and The Daily Star. Standing on findings, the discussion progressed around six areas – governance of newsroom operations, preparations, communication, newsgathering, restrictions, insecurity and protection. The key findings are: i) the COVID-19 crisis appeared as a blow before the newspaper journalists of Bangladesh due to a policy-level shortcoming in terms of formulating plans beforehand to govern the newsroom operations in the face of the challenges that emerged along with the pandemic; ii) the journalists were not comfortable in adapting themselves to the working from home strategy as they struggled in gathering and verifying information, and doing required communions using the virtual communication methods while working from distance; and iii) the journalists experienced psychological pressures because of multiple factors that included -- limited access to protective gear and fear of infection; protection of family members; adapting themselves to the changed working environments; and tension of losing the job in the pandemic crisis.

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