The Fourth Estate: Under the Shadow of Restrictions and the Search for Ways Forward

17 April 2021

Project Name: The Fourth Estate: Under the Shadow of Restrictions and the Search for Ways Forward

Project Partner: The Asia Foundation and Foreign and Commonwealth and Development Office(FCDO).

Project Duration: February, 2021- September, 2021

Project Summary: The press is considered an integral component of democracy and is vital to the functioning of inclusive democratic practices. In a representative democracy, the uninterrupted flow of information is required for incumbents and the opposition. Most importantly, it allows the citizens to know “who is doing what” and hold them accountable. Freedom of the press and a well-functioning media can play a conducive role in good governance and help combating national crises, including a pandemic. However, in Bangladesh, where democratic space has shrunk remarkably in the past decade, press and journalists are facing obstacles from the government on the one hand while having little support from the media houses, on the other. These adverse situations are weakening the Fourth Estate. Due to restrictive laws such as the Digital Security Act, the Information, and Communication Technology (ICT) Act journalists are working under adverse conditions and often feel to be under threat. Covid-19 has made the situation far worse as the government and the ruling party have clamped down on all dissenting voice and consider legitimate criticisms as ‘anti-government’ activities. Although pandemic has affected the country in March 2020, analyses on its impacts are sorely lacking. Strategies to address future pandemics, if that becomes a reality, are yet to be devised.  It is in these contexts, the Centre for Governance Studies (CGS) intends to assess the fast-changing situation and the emerging challenges for journalists and, thus, press freedom in Bangladesh taking into account the adverse state of freedom of press in the country, and the impacts of the coronavirus on the economy, public health, governance, foreign policy, geopolitics, education, social structure, and security during the time of the pandemic.

The Centre aimed to conduct a survey to gather evidence and initiate the advocacy and awareness-building activities for the freedom of press; developed eight investigative reports by the journalists and publish in the daily newspaper; organized two webinars and three talk-shows on Freedom of the Press in Bangladesh, the Mass Media in Bangladesh. The center also developed a handbook as a guideline for the journalists to work during the pandemic. 

Project Outputs: 

1.    Survey Report:

2.    Health Journalism during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Safety-Security Measures of the Journalists

3.    Handbook:

Covid-19 A Preventing Guideline for The Journalists


a. Webinar on Friends and Foes of Mass Media:


Talk Shows: a. Talk show -1TritiyoMatra Episode 6480

Talk show -2 TritiyoMatra Episode 6501