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Investigative Journalism Awards declared; speakers recognise data journalism as the new frontier in unearthing corruption

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has announced the results of the Anti-Corruption Investigative Journalism Awards 2022 to mark International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD).

The awards were announced following the presentation of the paper ‘Data Journalism against Corruption: Bangladesh Context’. The paper portrayed how open-source data and analytics can further help anti-corruption activists, including journalists, to unearth corruption. The paper, which covered a wide range of topics on journalistic challenges in restrictive environments, encouraged media leaders to invest more in data analysis in news reporting. The paper also pointed out that capacity building for journalists can help them utilise data more effectively.

This year, awards were given in 4 categories – local print and online media, national print and online media, news on electronic media, and documentary series on electronic media. In total, there were 99 submissions from different journalists from an array of media platforms.

Of the four awardees, Abul Hasan Himaloy won for his investigative series report on water management projects in Khulna, Asaduzzaman for his three-part series report on the misuse of the Digital Security Act, Md Alauddin Ahmmed for his two-part report on how public highways were auctioned off by vested quarters, and the Searchlight television programme for its investigation on how a parliamentarian amassed huge amounts of money and laundered them out of the country.

Speakers at the awards distribution programme said the reports were highlighted because of their utilisation of data, information, and proper investigation. While speaking at the awards distribution event, TIB Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzamna said, “Data journalism plays an important role worldwide. Reports like the Pandora Papers and Paradise Papers prove that. Data can establish trust in investigative journalism, but it has not expanded in Bangladesh that much. If utilised, data journalism can be a strong tool against corruption.”

Dr. Iftekharuzzaman also talked about the challenges faced by the media in Bangladesh. Mentioning that civil societies and media are being treated as threats instead of supporting structures in accountable democratic processes, he added, “The practice of shooting the messenger is taking place, and there is a culture of fear regarding freedom of speech, opinion or information. Instead of taking action against perpetrators, there is a trend of harassing the ones who broke the news. This is an alarm bell for democracy and a big obstacle for establishing human rights.”

TIB has been awarding the best investigative reports since 1999. In the last 24 years of the awards, TIB has received 1,327 investigative reports for the awards.