MRDI continued its support to the improvement of investigative journalism in Bangladesh, with the Investigative Journalism Helpdesk. As the media houses struggled to commit longer time and more resources to produce investigations, reporters continued to reach the IJ Helpdesk to receive tips, resources and mentoring for their investigative ideas. During the first half of the year the desk provided support to 42 reporters which grew more than three folds to 142 during the 6 months of pandemic. The desk provided tailored mentoring to 10 major investigations in Covid-19 time that created huge impact including arrest of corrupt businessmen issuing fake Covid-19 tests, review of security infrastructure of National Identity Card Database, and exposing an organized group involved in question paper leak of medical college admission.
Ashikur Rahman Srabon, an investigative journalist of News24 said, “the helpdesk helped me to see the story from a larger context and to tell the story with visuals. Now I am able to relate a small story, with an international perspective.” It reflects the sustained impact of the role of MRDI, that a little tips and mentoring can bring a meaningful change in their outputs.
Apurba Alauddin, the editor of Jamuna TV, an IJ partner newsroom said, “I can also say that we could produce the best visual story in our show, due to the helpdesk support.” It took 10 months for Apurba to produce an investigation on National ID fraud, which took 10 months to complete, and the helpdesk supported the team from planning to production of the story.
MRDI supports media houses and individual journalists and media houses, with tailored trainings and workshops, to improve their capacity. A lot of mid and early career reporters are still left out, who are interested in investigative reporting and need immediate support for planning, structuring, sourcing and even storytelling. MRDI launched the IJ helpdesk in 2019 to cater the needs of these aspiring journalists.