The first-ever ‘Children’s News Service’ in Bangladesh, hello.bdnews24.com, a specialised website, is set to emerge on Sunday.
Children and adolescent journalists aged between 10 and 17 years will gather and deliver news on the specially designed website targeting the children readers.
Bangladesh’s first internet newspaper bdnews24.com will run the website with UNICEF Bangladesh being the partner in the initiative.
bdnews24.com Senior Assistant Editor Mujtaba Hakim Plato, who coordinated the selection process of children journalists, said at a news conference on Friday that hello.bdnews24.com will be formally launched on Sunday at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.
Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu will attend the ceremony as the chief guest.
State Minister of Women and Children Affairs Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Representative of UNICEF Bangladesh Pascal Villeneuve will be present as special guests, Plato added.
The pre-launch media call at the National Press Club briefed journalists on different aspects of the initiative.
Kidz.bdnews24.com Editor Baby Maudud said bdnews24.com was the first to launch a specialised website for children in Bengali in 2007.
“Kidz.bdnews24.com gained huge popularity in quick time,” Maudud, also bdnews24.com’s Social Affairs Editor, said.
Speaking about hello.bdnews24.com, she said the UNICEF had proposed to work together with bdnews24.com on children journalism given its reputation for providing fact-based news.
“Bravery, valour or any good work done by children can be news. This website of ours will try to highlight that,” she added.
UNICEF Communications Specialist AM Sakil Faizullah said,” We don’t see presence of children in the media even though they constitute 45 percent of the country’s total population.”
He cited two surveys the UNICEF conducted in 2009 and 2011 to say only three percent of the news run by the mainstream media covers children, of which 2 percent are accident and other news. Only one percent of news deals with children rights issues.
The official hoped that the rate will rise to 10 percent through hello.bdnews24.com.
bdnews24.com also being a news agency means other media will be able to carry news uploaded on hello.bdnews24.com, he added.
Plato said 210 children were primarily chosen through written and oral tests from around 3,000 aspirants from 20 districts chosen by the UNICEF to work with hello.bdnews24.com.
bdnews24.com later conducted a workshop with the selected children.
Plato said they put in most efforts to ensure participation of children from all classes of society including those physically challenged and underprivileged children in the initiative.
bdnews24.com News Editor Gazi Nasiruddin Ahmed Khokon said it was true the news service was about children and adolescents, but it cannot be fully described as ‘juvenile’.
An environment will be there so that the children learn about professionalism and objectivity of the media apart from being aware of their own rights, he said.
”We have made a guideline on how the children will gather news, how they will prioritise issues and how they will deliver news,” he added. “The children themselves will do all the tasks here under the supervision of our senior editors.”
Baby Maudud said, “It’s not that all these children getting training in journalism will go on to become journalist. They will learn about professionalism here and it will help them later in their lives.”