Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Year : 1, Issue : 19
by Tarique Choyon
IN BANGLADESH, the actual newspaper is undetermined as there are many shady portals. Currently, only a handful of print media publish authentic reports. To gain insight into ‘America in the eyes of Bangladeshi print media,’ I collected reports, editorials, analyses, and articles from some print newspapers, namely, The Daily Star, The Daily Observer, Manabzamin, and Prothom Alo.
When it comes to Bangladesh’s bilateral relationship with the United States, some areas remained the focus of print media attention, and they include: US presidential elections, US Indo-Pacific strategy, US role in the Russia-Ukraine war, US diplomatic relations with other countries, economic developments, immigration policies, human rights and social issues, science and technology, natural disasters, and climate change, as well as entertainment and pop culture. In this analysis, I focus on reports and articles related to the US presidential elections, the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy, and its role in the Russia-Ukraine war.
America’s presidential elections
ALL the newspapers provided extensive coverage of the last US presidential campaigns, reporting on campaign rallies, speeches, debates, and the candidates’ positions on various issues. They often featured profiles of the presidential candidates, highlighting their backgrounds, policy platforms, and critical campaign promises. On election day, newspapers reported (in their online versions) the results, including the electoral vote count, popular vote totals, and the election winner. Newspapers included reactions from political leaders, experts, and the public following the election. They also covered the international implications of the election, including how the new president’s policies may impact global affairs. Furthermore, newspapers frequently featured editorials and opinion pieces discussing the election results, the implications for domestic and international politics, and the new administration’s challenges and opportunities. To help readers understand how the president is elected, newspapers explained the US electoral process, including the Electoral College system. Additionally, newspapers often report on voter turnout, the level of public engagement in the election, and any issues or controversies related to the electoral process.
America’s Indo-Pacific strategy
COVERAGE of the US Indo-Pacific strategy in Bangladeshi newspapers has primarily focused on how policies and actions in the Indo-Pacific region affect Bangladesh and the broader South Asian region. The following aspects of the US Indo-Pacific strategy have been covered:
The geopolitical significance of the Indo-Pacific region and its growing importance in global politics and economics.
The US diplomatic efforts, military engagements, and economic partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, particularly regarding Bangladesh.
The US’s security and defence cooperation with regional countries, including Bangladesh, and its contribution to regional stability.
Discussions on trade agreements, investment opportunities, and economic partnerships between the US and Indo-Pacific countries, specifically focusing on Bangladesh’s financial interests.
The US involvement in infrastructure development projects, connectivity initiatives, and efforts to enhance regional connectivity can benefit Bangladesh.
The vulnerability of many Indo-Pacific countries to climate change, with newspapers covering US initiatives related to climate mitigation and adaptation in the region.
The impact of the US strategy on regional political dynamics, including the relationships between countries in the region.
The question of how the US strategy interacts with China’s interests and actions in the Indo-Pacific considering China’s presence and influence.
Reactions and responses from other countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia to the US strategy.
BANGLADESHI print media reported on US diplomatic efforts regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This coverage included US officials’ statements, involvement in international negotiations, and calls for a peaceful resolution. Newspapers also covered the US’s imposition of sanctions on Russia, discussing the scope and impact of these sanctions. Additionally, the media provided reports on the military aid or support the US offers Ukraine and its implications for the conflict. Print media explored how the Russia-Ukraine conflict affects global politics, security, and international relations, including the U.S.’s stance. Newspapers discussed the humanitarian impact of the conflict, such as the displacement of civilians and the US efforts to provide humanitarian assistance. Editorials and opinion pieces in print media offered analysis and commentary on the US stance, strategies, and actions regarding the conflict, providing insights into how Bangladeshi experts and analysts view the situation. Reports also delved into the broader geopolitical implications of the conflict, particularly about US-Russia relations and their effects on global stability. The coverage included discussions of the role of international organisations, alliances, and partnerships, such as NATO, in which the US plays a crucial role in addressing the crisis. When reporting on America, the specific focus and tone of the coverage vary among different print media outlets, depending on their editorial stance, readership interests, and government position. For example, the upcoming 2024 US presidential election is already generating significant interest in Bangladesh. With the ruling Awami League facing growing criticism and international pressure for a neutral caretaker government, the US elections are seen as potentially impacting the country’s future. The coverage of American presidential elections in Bangladesh varies depending on the media outlet. Some outlets provide more neutral and objective reporting, while others tend to be more partisan or influenced by the government’s stance. Some publications present a more positive view of America, while others take a more critical approach. So, it’s important to understand that media bias varies widely among different outlets and even among individual journalists. While a few journalists and analysts from Bangladeshi print media deliberately express critical views of US policies or actions, most journalists provide authentic coverage.
Several factors contribute to why some Bangladeshi newspapers are biased against America. Newspapers may cater to the preferences and beliefs of their readers. If a particular readership holds critical views of US policies, the media outlet might reflect those views in its reporting. Historical events and past US actions shape public opinion and media coverage. For instance, historical events like the Iraq or Afghanistan War impacted public perceptions. From those perceptions, many people still blame America for the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war for no apparent reason. Some media outlets often view US foreign policy through the lens of global power dynamics. The same thing we are experiencing in the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas war. Bangladesh has a diverse media landscape with outlets catering to various linguistic, cultural, and religious communities; this diversity sometimes leads to a range of perspectives on international issues, including those related to America. The reactions of Bangladeshi readers to news related to the US vary widely based on individual perspectives, the specific news topic, and the context in which the news is presented. Most Bangladeshi readers are keenly interested in news about the U.S. due to its global significance. They actively engage with such news by reading articles, sharing them on social media, and participating in online discussions. That’s why US Indo-Pacific Strategy-type issues have received significant coverage in Bangladeshi media. Most readers have a favourable view of the US and its policies, expressing support for US initiatives such as foreign aid programs, educational opportunities, and cultural exchanges. However, some adopt a more critical stance, especially regarding US foreign policy decisions or international actions. They question the motivations behind specific policies and express skepticism about US intentions. For example, the coverage of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy in Bangladeshi media generally supports the strategy’s goals. Still, some media outlets highlight the potential challenges and the need for Bangladesh to maintain a balanced regional approach.
Readers with left-leaning or progressive views tend to focus on issues like social justice and human rights, often critiquing US policies in these areas. On the other hand, readers with right-leaning views appreciate US economic and foreign policies and support stronger diplomatic ties. Additionally, younger generations are enthusiastic about news related to study abroad programs, scholarships, and advancements in science and technology.
Author is a fellow at the Centre for Governance Studies/Courtesy: New Age