I came across this comment in a news blog today:

This reminds me of one of my dad’s old journalism dicta: The Bangladesh Rule. This rule states that the further away from a news event the reporting takes place, the more likely that reporting is to be accurate. This is why I used to get my news from Al Jazeera America, and now I get it from the Guardian.

What did the poster of this comment mean by 'The Bangladesh Rule'? A basic internet search did not yield any relevant answer. Also it was implied in the comment that this rule seems to be made up by a closed group of journalists. If so, what events in Bangladesh prompted them to come up with this rule?

  • 5
    I don't think this is a broadly-recognized thing. It may just be an in-concept among the poster's dad and his colleagues.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 11 '16 at 16:39
  • That's my understanding too. I'm interested in the premise of this made up rule.
    – Mahen
    Aug 11 '16 at 16:44
  • 2
    Never read comments on news articles. That comment input attracts the most bigheaded people with the least actual knowledge of what they are talking about.
    – Philipp
    Aug 12 '16 at 14:14
  • 1
    @Philipp The only time I go to the comments section is when a news article is visibly biased. I just like to watch flame wars from a safe distance.;-)
    – Mahen
    Aug 12 '16 at 17:56

While I haven't heard of the rule the premise makes sense, though it may actually end up being misleading.

If Bangladesh makes the news, it's usually because of another catastrophic flooding due to monsoon rains. Being an impoverished country with no great influence on world events, very little attention is paid to local politics etc.

If a reporter in Europe or the US is told to report on something in Bangladesh, it's likely they know nothing about the place, not even stereotypes. All they have to go on are the facts, so they'll stick to the facts, or look it up on official country information databases.

As you get a little closer, reporters will know more urban myths and stereotypes about familiar countries, reducing the accuracy of their 'anecdotes'.

Get even closer, and knowledge will increase in accuracy, but the reporters' own agendas will start skewing things, because they are more involved in the outcome.

What's misleading is the fact that Bangladesh makes a uniquely good example for this rule (being distant and unknown), but many other countries violate it. Iraq is further away for the US, but reporting from there is nothing near as factual as the reporting from Bangladesh.

With the advent of the internet, I don't expect this rule is valid anymore, as it's not distance but amount of media attention that determines how much people "know" about some place.

  • Interesting. I expected a specific event that led to this "rule"- something related to the 1971 liberation war. Do you think there may be any connection?
    – Mahen
    Aug 12 '16 at 18:19
  • It could be of course, but as they say, truth is often the first victim in a war.
    – Cyrus
    Aug 12 '16 at 19:38
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    Bangladesh has for very long been part of India which is certainly very known in "the west". You don't need internet to get info about foreign countries - there has always been books with detailed information and pictures, and those are as much if not more complete than WP pages. The only difference is that we couldn't discuss with foreign people in real time. Journalism was certainly of better quality before internet, as they had to do some research themselves.
    – Bregalad
    Aug 12 '16 at 20:36
  • "Iraq is further away for the US" - interesting statement. From which point in the US are you measuring? Hawaii, perhaps? Or did you use distance figuratively, in a sense of less known/more exotic?
    – Hulk
    Nov 30 '20 at 16:04
  • @Hulk It's been 4 years, so I don't remember. I'd like to say it was meant figuratively, but it's just as likely a simple mistake.
    – Cyrus
    Dec 1 '20 at 12:42

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