(Social) Media Predictions 2013

It’s not easy to predict but in the coziness of warm bed, I decided to predict how Nepali media, especially in connection with social media, is going to change in upcoming year. Feel free to add your own predictions in comments!

I’m prediction that 2013 will see introduction of mobile news applications (for iPhone/iPad/Android) by mainstream media, more social media integration by mainstream media and more media outlets!

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Unethical Misinterpretation by Rajdhani

On Wednesday, Dec 19, Rajdhani national daily newspaper published a front-page photo of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Chief Justice Khilraj Regmi. The five-column photo shows Regmi standing while PM seems to be bowing to CJ with his hands joined together.

The captain says: “Need Support Your Honor: Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai who is also the Minister of Law greeting Chief Justice Khilraj Regmi during his participation in a program organized to mark 22nd anniversary of Justice Council.”

Rajdhani

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Observations from #SocialMedia trainings

Dhangadhi Training.

In October and November 2012, I travelled five places to train journalists in use of social media. The training was organized by Equal Access Nepal and funded by UNDP in partnership with the Government of Japan and UNESCO.

The five training venues were: Biratnagar (east Nepal), Balthali, Kavre (central), Pokhara (west), Dhangadhi (far-west) and Nepalgunj (mid-west). Altogether more than 150 journalists attended the two-day residential training – at an average of 30 trainees per venue.

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Journalism & Ethics in Social Media Era

[To Mark International Media Ethics Day]

Media is facing hard times. It’s not only receiving blows from advertisers but also from the Internet. The Internet has emerged as a tough competitor, and without money-generating model, media are forced only to spend on online media to remain competitive.

And, through social media, individuals are expressing their dissatisfaction over media –from questioning priority to lamenting coverage to ridiculing news.

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#SajhaSawal

“When I see ordinary people speaking on the program, I feel motivated and confident that I also could speak in front of the public.”

This was what a 46-year-old woman from the rural area of Surkhet district told a researcher studying the impact of the radio/television show — Sajha Sawal, literally, Common Questions.

My questions! A woman speaks during Sajha Sawal’s shoot! Photo Courtesy: SajhaSawal
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Journalists & Social Media

Last month, two separate survey reports were published on ‘Nepali journalists’ use of social media’.

The first Journalist & Social Media: 2011 National Survey of Nepali Journalists was released by Center for Media Research – Nepal (CMR-Nepal). This is a survey that assesses the journalists’ use of social media, the purposes of their usages and their perceptions about social media as an aid for their professional activities.

The other, FNJ Social Media Survey Report 2012, was released by Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ). The study was conducted by FNJ in association with InterNews Nepal.

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Proposed Media Policy: Bad Timing

The Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) has thrown out a draft of Media Policy 2012 urging stakeholders to send feedback that it said will be incorporated before finalizing it. A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has published front-page advertisements urging all concerned organization and people to send the feedback to their email. The NGO also held three consultation meetings, including one in Kathmandu, to discuss the proposed media policy.

The proposed policy is prepared by a committee headed by MoIC joint secretary under a project funded by Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA). The ‘Project for Promoting Peace Building and Democratization through the Capacity Development of the Media Sector in Nepal’ (or Media for Peace Project) aims to achieve two targets: first, functioning of Radio Nepal as a public service broadcasting (PSB) and second, revision of media policy, acts, regulations and guidelines.

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The Ebbing Himal (news magazine)

Yesterday, I tweeted about new layout design of Himal Khabarpatrika – a fortnightly news magazine published by Kanak Mani Dixit (@kanakmanidixit) for Himalmedia Private Limited. The tweet was a summary of a small text placed in the magazine’s new issue saying that the particular issue onward the magazine has changed the size and layout.

http://twitter.com/#!/UjjwalAcharya/status/158576069035835392

I put a second line myself saying that the market has gone down for the magazine. It was my experience based more or less on my interpretation of some of the answers by Dixit in an in-house discussion published in its 300th issue (Deshko Mag – Nepali text). 

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Kathmandu Statement on Internet & FoE

Kathmandu Statement is the outcome of the South Asian Meeting on the Internet and Freedom of Expression, held in Kathmandu from November 2 to 4, 2011.

The meeting was organized by the Internet Democracy Project, in collaboration with Point of View (India), the Centre for Policy Alternatives (Sri Lanka) and Global Partners and Associates (UK) and was participated by a select group of Internet and FoE activists of the region and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue.

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Good journalism is good for journalism

Distribution channel will change in future and we have no control over what people will use. They may use something we don’t know today. At the publishing house, we have to specialize on producing good stories.

When I was in Hamburg, Germany to attend the first of three phases of the Journalism in Digital World at the International Academy of Journalism – Intajour, one of the big question amongst the fellows there was ‘how the upcoming technology going to change journalism.’

The advent of the Internet followed by the development of mobile devices- such as smartphones, e-readers and tablets – which people increasingly use to read the news has to change journalism someway, many of us believed. For a media house, and journalists the possible further development of new platforms poses a big opportunity (to become early adopter of profitable venture among upcoming developments) and a threat (how to remodel journalism to perfectly harness the capability of the platform).

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Nepali journalism around Anuja scandal

Nepali journalism should learn lessons from Anuja scandal and move forward, rather than ridiculing a group of newspapers (or counter-attacking those who choose to ridicule) because this is the state of Nepali journalism – not only of a reporter or a newspaper

The Story

Nepal’s top national daily Kantipur and it’s sister publication The Kathmandu Post published a news report on its frontpage anchor position about Anuja Baniya who returned 9.1 million rupees and a diamond necklace to the owner after finding them abandoned in a public bus. President Dr Ram Baran Yadav himself called her to thank her – a news that was carried by almost all newspapers with backgrounder as published by Kantipur.

Soon after, there were news that stated police is investigating. The news turned out to be fake one and Kantipur did a praiseworthy job by publishing apology on frontpage stating that the story was untrue as the characters misled then.

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Tweets: People’s voices

Click for full image.

Egypt is in turmoil. The North African nation is going through the mass protests it had never seen before in an attempt to rid itself from the clutches of 30-year autocracy of President Hosni Mubarak. Regime change in Tunisia, its neighbor, fueled the protests in the streets of Egypt that are growing violent, without any sign of subsiding until Mubarak steps down.

In the Egyptian as well as the Tunisian protests, social media on the internet such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube acted as a platform for the people to share their opinions with the world along with exchanging information. In fact, some of the optimistic social media advocates are calling these revolutions Facebook revolutions, which in my opinion is an exaggeration. People used these means of communication media to spread and share information, only because they are global and more powerful than traditional means – word of mouth or telephone.

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Future of news-on-papers

Will newspapers still be called newspapers if they are not printed on paper? Or will it simply be called something like online news site or news-in-hands or news onscreen?

It is kind of absurd in the Nepali context to think that newspapers are facing a big challenge from technological advancement in the digital form, especially at a time when newspapers are actually growing in numbers and overall circulation. According to an internationally-acclaimed prediction, Nepal is among the last nations from where newspapers would disappear, some 40 to 50 years from now.

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It happens only in Nepali TVs!

Incident 1 (ABC Television): Two girls, tenth graders, were interviewed by the television. They were arrested for prostitution along with two pimps. The faces were blurred during most of the interview but frequently they were visible. And, the reporter named the school they were studying twice. For what?

Incident 2 (News24 Television): In a news item about tension after abduction and murder of a school boy in West Nepal, the TV channel live interviewed a reporter and repeatedly the video that showed a naked body being pulled out. Face and private parts of the dead body was blurred but nevertheless, the question is for what it was necessary to show the video?

Incident 3 (Sagarmatha Television): The national television channel LIVE broadcast the launching of a music album from a five-star hotel in Kathmandu. I have never heard about LIVE broadcasting of such a program in a national channel.

LIVE broadcast of album launch! Thanks to Umesh Shrestha for picture!

These three representative events happened in last few days. The mushroomed television channels are competing with each other to be recognized; and using any thing that could increase their viewership (no matter what the ethical standard is).

There are so many things to complain on the ethical standard of the news and program shown on such television channels – more so because they employ fresh reporters who are normally not educated or trained in journalism. Sadly, television is such a powerful media that the reporters consider themselves privileged and demand facilities accordingly.

In many occasions, journalists who are into the profession for long enough to know what’s right and what’s wrong, complain, quietly, about the questions those television reporters ask and the behavior they show during reporting. And, the seniors at television rarely care because they need something to show – and they have not enough human resource to train those reporters.

I am not saying print and radio are all standard and ethical but they are far better than televisions. And, organizations such as Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), Press Council Nepal and other NGOs – with slogans to work for media – should think of training programs for those reporters working in televisions.

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Media vs Indian Embassy: What’s wrong?

If you read Nepal’s newspapers (some of them), Indian Embassy issued a press release directly attacking the press freedom and went beyond the diplomatic norms.

If you read reports in some of Indian newspapers, Nepali media fraternity declared war against India by stoking anti-Indian sentiments for some of the media ‘unethically published news against products of Indian joint venture’.

A cursory look at the press release issued by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu does not seem to be anything wrong. It does not directly attack the press freedom. I believe if anyone urges government to take appropriate action against unethical practices, there is nothing wrong.

But the scenario does not end here: the press release needs rethinking as it was issued by the Indian Embassy – the representative of the Indian government in Kathmandu. And, it also needs rethinking because the Indian Embassy is trying to bully Nepal on a lot of issues, more during the ambassadorship of Rakesh Sood.

I believe that Indian Embassy’s press release was unnecessary – both for the diplomatic norms and for practicality. Indian Embassy could have safely approached the concerned Nepali authorities via the Nepali foreign affairs ministry to make such a request officially. If they issued a press release, they meant they wanted to take on media themselves – a very wrong approach.

I do also believe that the beefing up of the issue by the media – and it looked like only some of the media – too was unnecessary because if an embassy crosses its diplomatic norms and do something as silly as releasing a press release on such petty issue, it’s something to ridicule. Publishing front-page news day after day, and opinions and editorials just doesn’t seem to do justice to the media space for this is not an issue of big importance.

If even the report published about the product of Dabur Nepal are biased as claimed (they claimed the newspapers published reports for they did not give advertisements to those particular newspapers in questions), there are ways in which the company can quash the reports and even move to the Press Council of Nepal for necessary action authorized by the legal provisions of Nepal.

About anti-Indian sentiments in Nepal, I believe it’s growing in last few years – more because of the activities of the Indian Embassy, and India, rather than anything else. Their attempt to bully Nepal in political issues and their media’s approach to associate Nepal with the land of abductors or no law or Pakistani playground has been instrumental in increasing the sentiments – especially among youths.

For India, the world superpower in next few decades, it’s unnecessary to bully a small neighbor; rather it’s of their best interest to keep Nepal calm, developing and stable largely because they have plenty of issues to resolve with other bigger neighbors – Pakistan and China. And, it’s better for India to ensure that Nepali people like India rather than dislike it.

And, India should become a caring big brother, rather than bullying one, by supporting in Nepal’s initiatives to develop, become calm and stable by supporting, but not dictating, those attempts. And, right now it looks like if they really want to be show Nepalis that they do care about Nepal, they should call back the current ambassador!

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