Freedom and accountability of media equally important | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 10, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:07 AM, February 10, 2019

Freedom and accountability of media equally important

Says information minister

Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud yesterday said time has come to think globally and work together on how to deal with fake news and rumours on social media platforms, through establishing an "Internet Ombudsman", as freedom of media and accountability is equally important.

“We need to discuss it deeply. Together, we'll work out how the unedited platforms [social media platforms] can be brought under rules and regulations,” he said, adding that the government will take a decision in consultation with stakeholders in the media industry.

The information minister made the remark while addressing as chief guest the annual district correspondents' conference of United News of Bangladesh (UNB) at its head office in the city.

As UNB Editor-in-Chief Enayetullah Khan proposed establishing an 'Internet Ombudsman', the minister supported it, saying there are some rules, regulations and technologies which are not adequate to deal with rumours and fake news.

Stating that anybody can spread rumours from abroad using any ID, the information minister said it needs to be discussed globally when it comes to creation of an Internet Ombudsman in Bangladesh.

“State, society and everybody will be benefitted if we see synchronisation between media freedom and accountability,” Hasan Mahmud said.

UNB Chairman Amanullah Khan; former Vice-Chancellor of Dhaka University Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique; Honorary Professor of its Mass Communication and Journalism Department Dr Shakhawat Ali Khan; Additional Press Secretary to the Prime Minister's Office Nazrul Islam; and Deputy Head  of Corporate and Compliance Affairs of Cosmos Group Rumessa Mailloux spoke at the programme.

Some 100 UNB journalists from across the country attended the event.

Prof Arefin said as a teacher of journalism it pains and shames him to discuss "fake news" in the 21st century.

Dr Arefin, also a professor of Dhaka University's (DU) Mass Communication and Journalism department, said information is as powerful as a "nuclear bomb". Enayetullah Khan said the changing media landscape is making it difficult to determine the best way to respond to fake news. “Fact-checking or media literacy might help, but we need to invent new ones to fight fake news and yellow journalism,” he said.

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