Bangladeshi Journalist Wins $1,000 GroundReport Prize
GroundReport announced today the winner of June’s Off-the-Radar Contest, a news competition with a $1,000 USD grand prize. The winner was Arafatul Islam, whose article garnered the highest traffic on GroundReport.com for the month of June. Underscoring GroundReport’s participatory format, the contest was judged by the “wisdom of crowds,” and not a committee or editor; the report with the highest number of unique views in June won.
Arafatul Islam is a journalist from Bangladesh who also writes for Weekly Shaptahik 2000 and Technology Today. In May 2006 he established the “Voice of South” discussion group for South Asian journalists, which now had over six hundred subscribers. Mr. Islam said he first learned of GroundReport from the International Journalists’ Network. He visited the website and decided it was “a reliable and strong platform for me to start publishing.”
There is a significant South Asian presence on GroundReport, an open news platform that aims to offer an independent, global news source free of government control or editorial bias. Asked about the state of media freedom in South Asia, Mr. Islam said that the “political situation…[is]…not stable. That's why press freedom is not up to the mark here.” He cited Nepal and Pakistan as examples and added that “the Bangladeshi media also faces press freedom limitations due to the Emergency Act and an army-backed government.” Indeed, several Nepalese and Pakistani writers also publish regularly on GroundReport.
According to Mr. Islam, internet publishing tools may offer a remedy to the media bias. “Now people in South Asia rely on blogs for news without any government censorship. And blogging is a good way to disseminate news to the world very quickly,” Mr. Islam continued, “in South Asia the blogger community has much more freedom of expression…than mainstream media.”
Arafatul Islam’s winning article, “Online Pornography Growing in Bangladesh,” will be the final winner of the Off-the-Radar Contest. Admittedly, the controversial topic probably contributed to the traffic to the article. Starting in July, GroundReport will begin distributing the $1,000 payment to all of its contributors in proportion to their report traffic. The change is meant to recognize and engage a greater number of GroundReport contributors. Commenting on the GroundReport blog, founder and Chief Executive Officer Rachel Sterne said, “we still think it’s crucial to reward our contributors, but we think [this is] a better way to recognize the accomplishments of everyone in the GroundReport community.”
Asked how he felt about his win, Mr. Islam said simply, “It's really a good achievement for me.”
Tags: GroundReport , Arafatul , Islam , Bangladesh
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