The role of a newspaper in an advocacy campaign to save Dhaka’s rivers in Bangladesh

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Communications and Arts


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr John Charles Ryan

Second Advisor

Adjunct Associate Professor Rod Giblett


Four major rivers that flow around Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, are threatened by human activities that have caused them to seriously decline. This situation has become a significant concern for both Dhaka’s inhabitants and for environmentalists. River-related issues have become controversial and contentious, and have started to receive public attention. Nowadays the newspapers of Bangladesh frequently cover river issues, including the protection of rivers. The Daily Star, the leading national English-language newspaper of Bangladesh, has in the last few years advocated for tougher actions against river grabbing, encroaching, waste dumping and sand filling. In extending the range of its coverage on river-related issues, The Daily Star employed a shift from environmental journalism to a wider-ranging environmental media advocacy campaign. On 1 June 2009 the newspaper formally launched a media campaign called “Nodi Banchao Dhaka Banchao” (“Save Rivers, Save Dhaka”), aiming to raise public awareness and influence the government’s policy-making. It has been more than five years since this campaign began. In response to the campaign, the government of Bangladesh became concerned and has started a number of initiatives, but, in reality, there has been no major change in the condition of the rivers. The attempts by The Daily Star to advocate for protecting rivers drew public attention and also mobilised public opinion. This research discusses the role of a newspaper in raising public awareness through an advocacy campaign. Through this campaign, the newspaper became a platform for the government, environmental pressure groups and activists to engage with the public to work together to save Dhaka’s major rivers. This ongoing media advocacy campaign provides a unique case study. Applying the method of content analysis, this research takes a closer look at The Daily Star’s “Save Rivers, Save Dhaka” campaign, and also attempts to understand public perception of the effectiveness of this media-driven environmental advocacy precedent.

LCSH Subject Headings

Water -- Pollution -- Bangladesh.

Journalism -- Social aspects -- Bangladesh.

Journalism -- Political aspects -- Bangladesh.

Mass media -- Bangladesh -- Public opinion.

Mass media and the environment -- Bangladesh.

Environmental protection -- Press coverage -- Bangladesh.

Access Note

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