Our Own Cartoon Story

I would call it a sad event. Nepal Samacharpatra, a national daily, published a cartoon on Sunday that explicitly accused Kantipur Publications, the leading publishing house in the country, of propaganda and yellow journalism.

The cartoon, published three columns on the front page, shows four members of the International Media Mission that recently visited Nepal to assess the media situation in the country looking amusingly at two on their knees. Even a layman in Nepal would recognize the two as the publisher and managing director of Kantipur Publication.

Cartoon (c) Nepal Samacharpatra

The two if portrayed saying: We are doing propaganda in the name of journalism, we have also gone to jail after being questioned by CIAA (Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority) but still the government provides no advertisements to us. Please, sirs, find the medicine of this ‘yellow’ disease when you are here. The banner behind reads: International Media Mission – Bhrantipur Publication and the observer on the right bottom saying: it’s all because of your own deeds.

Since I have worked in Nepal Samacharpatra before moving to Kantipur Publications, I feel so bad about it. I haven’t heard or tried to know the reactions among the corporate or editors here but I feel really bad about one media going against another media; that too in such a situation when there is a pressing need for the unity among them to fight for press freedom.

The government in Nepal have introduced strict press laws and tried to tame media in many ways including the one called One-Door Advertising Policy (ODAP). The policy means that only one government policy would distribute the government ads to only those media who register to the agency. Nepal Samacharpatra is registered while Kantipur isn’t. But the policy hadn’t affected Kantipur as much as other small newspapers relying mostly on government ads.

It’s sad that time and again media in Nepal fight against each other. Once, Nepal Samacharpatra fuelled an anti-Kantipur boss protest outside Kathmandu and covered it as if it was the biggest event needing regular follow-ups. Then they joined hands along with some other to protest the foreign investment in media directed towards The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post publishing full-page ‘nationalist’ ads frequently.

I believe newspaper should not refrain from exposing other media’s wrongdoings but all that based on the bias (be that political ideologies or other) is something media shouldn’t do. There could be difference on many things among newspapers (and they are the enemies when it comes to breaking news or market), but for the basic things like press freedom they should never let the unity break.

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Finally, I Meet Raamesh

If somebody asks me to name one singer whom I like most, it would be definitely Raamesh. The musician, who likes to call himself people’s singer, has sang no love-songs but a lot of songs that vibrate the hearts with its vivid referral to people and encourages people to do something for the country.

When I read a book called Samjhana Ka Pailaharu or steps of remembrances, a travelogue of their travel in various parts of the country, often far away villages, singing for people (they called it the Ralfa Movement), I always wondered how can people be so brave. It was the time the autocratic Panchayat system and they traveled singing for revolution.

Be it any time, Raamesh has been a voice for revolution (many still call his songs communist songs). His is a Nepali Bob Marley or Bob Dylan for me (off course without the hashish) and I always desperately wait his albums (even if it is children’s songs).

I had a chance to meet him for the first time. I could have met him earlier as a journalist, but I always wanted to meet him as a fan. He was at Patan for a album release program which I too attended. I talked to him for about five minutes. It was nice to chat with him and he said a few things about his songs.

He said he was at the program because he liked the singer – Shishir Yogi. I knew why because Yogi’s choices of songs also match his interest – the songs that speak for the people and the country rather than romance. A few of Yogi’s new album Suskera are love or romance songs but there are few which are of Raamesh’s type (and I liked them).

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On Online Journalism

I am finding really difficult to take out time for blogging because of my professional assignments (journalism plus teaching the School Leaving Certificate examination appearing students). However, for last two mornings, I got engaged in two different college teaching the students basics of online journalism.

On Monday, I was at Kathmandu Central College (KCC) teaching standard XI students about online journalism. It was interesting to answer various queries from the youngsters who are just learning journalism. On Tuesday, I was at Madan Bhandari Memorial College talking about Online Journalism and ethics to the students of Bachelors’ Level.

I really enjoy telling people about online journalism and from somewhere the issues of blogs and citizen journalism would crept into the discussion and that makes me more than happy.

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Lecture on Citizen Journalism

Perhaps it was a farce: we were there to talk about participatory media and we ended up it like a lecture forcing majority of our students to suggest ‘the class should be more participatory’. But nevertheless, the class was better than we have thought and the students, though very young at around 16-17, were much more interested than we were looking for.

Understanding Online Media as Alternative Media’ was the title of the guest presentation that we held at Kathmandu Don Bosco College. There were one-and-half dozen participants, mostly girls. It was something like a beta-testing for us as we wanted to learn reactions from the students so to develop a more effective course on the topics for presentation.

Broadly, we talked about online media, mainstream media v alternative media, citizen and participatory journalism, democracy, democratic media, blogs and blogging. I will be posting more on the issues in coming days.

Here are a few suggestions that we received from the students:

“I don’t think that in Nepal, blogs can be popular because the internet access is so low. But it’s a great way of sharing the feelings. So people who want to share their feeling will get a great opportunity.”Suman

“I came to know about we media, how to be a contributor through blog journalism. I believe it will help me to sharpen my creativity since I now have a platform to express my opinion.” Bhrikuti Rai

“Special discussion focused on other features of blog should be emphasised.”Sabi Dongol

We reviewed our presentation as average because we touched too many issues and it was difficult for the students to grasp all of them in two-hour. We will review our course and compact it before going to other colleges for more presentations and probably encouraging more young people to jump into the blogosphere.

Our thanks to all the students, the college administration and teacher Bhuwaneshwor Sharma for giving us an opportunity.

PS: Here ‘we’ implies to me, Tilak Pathak and Bhuwan KC.

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Every Nepali is a Journalist!

Have you ever heard a similar phrase? If not, consider yourself a novice in the citizen journalism. Every Citizen is a Journalist is the motto of the pioneer citizen journalism site, OhMyNews of South Korea. OhMyNews, successful financially and journalistically, has some 30,000 citizen reporters who can write news for it and earn a few dollars. Wikinews is another successful venture, without the dollar attraction. There are many others trying to attract common people to involve themselves in collection, analysis and writing of news and information.

Where is Nepal then? We are still at a very early stage because even blogs are late comer in this part of the world. Now when looks like the attraction of blogging is is increasing, it’s not surprising for me that somebody thought of beginning a citizen media site. [If fact, I have myself pondered the idea during early days of United We Blog! and had read numerous articles about OhMyNews’ rise. I gave up the idea after I learnt that almost 70 per cent of South Koreans use broadband and in my own country even dial-up users are very limited.]

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Nepali Sports On Net

When I began my NepalCricket site, I didn’t bothered to look whether it was first Nepali sports site or not. But now I feel like I should have checked that. It was after around two years that I made an official announcement of the site releasing a press release. At that time, Bhakundo.org.np was a good site for soccer and there was another site for football hosted on geocities. Both are defunct now.

After around four years, the scenario is different with a few more sites but what still lacks is professional sports sites. I believe there has been no substantial development on professionalism with my site but many other sports sites have appeared (some of them have already disappeared too).

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