Online Media in Nepal: Short History

(This is a very short history of online media/journalism including that of Nepal that I had prepared a few years ago for my term paper. Updated with beginning of internet in Nepal on June 28.)

Internet is relatively new media. It was only in the late 80s and early 90s that the World Wide Web (WWW) emerged and started influencing the way people live. Journalism was not left behind. The early use of internet was for acquiring information and using computer to improve reporting, but by the half of the 90s, the newspapers were already on the internet serving the people worldwide.

Early precursors of the online journalism are believed to be teletext and videotext, introduced and used during 70s and 80s but never took off. In 1978, Bulletin Board System (BBS), information and emails sharing method by direct connection between computers, began. In 1982, StarText, the first newspaper intended to deliver only to computers via videotext was established. In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee created the internet. His invention changed the scenario as the WWW offered greater capacity, flexibility, immediacy, permanence and interactivity.

Chicago Tribune of USA began its online venture, the Chicago Online, in 1992. This is the considered the first online media. The first proper news site was put on the internet as early as in 1993 when the The News & Observer in North Carolina was put on the internet through bulletin board system (BBS). After the first internet browser, Mosaic was launched in 1994, it went online as Nando Times. The pioneering site, the Nando Times pages were discontinued May 27, 2003. On January 19, 1995, the first newspaper to regularly publish on the Web, the Palo Alto Weekly in California, begins twice-weekly postings of its full content.

Mercantile Office Systems began the commercial email system in June 1994 and established a separate entity Mercantile Communications for similar services. Before that Nepal Academy for Science and Technology (NAST) and Nepal Forum for Environmental Journalists had used email services as trials. Early services were used by dialing ISD numbers in India for the connection.

On July 15, 1995 Mercantile started providing full online access operating via a lease line through Nepal Telecom with it’s backbone in Singapore. By the end of 1995, Mercantile had approximately 150 subscribers – most of them being the International Non-Governmental Organizations in Kathmandu.

WorldLink began internet services as around same time with duplex dial-up lines that dials in USA four times a day. It had around 60 subscribers by January 1996.

Nepalese in US began the publication of first online media on Oct 23, 1993 – The Nepal Digest. This continued for 449 issues and closed before it resumed publication again in 2003. On September 1, 1995 (edited on September 5, 2013 after finding out that The Kathmandu Post started uploading on September 1, 1995 but only announced it on September 7, 1995) The Kathmandu Post went online on the University of Illinois website. It was joint effort of Mercantile Communications, the publication and Rajendra Shrestha, an engineering student who uploaded the news on his personal page provided by the university.

Himal Media started archiving it’s publication, Himal South Asia, in it’s own website himalsouthasia.com in 1997.

Mercantile established South-Asia.com in 1998 when it archived seven daily and weekly newspapers. The site however only gave the digital version of the printed publications. In 1999, it moved to NepalNews.com paving ways for more newspapers to put up their content on the cyberspace and the company also began serving it’s own news collected by the reporters it employed for the news portal.

Kantipur Publications established KantipurOnline.com on April 13, 2000. At initial phase, KantipurOnline.com employed reporters for news reporting. The site not only uploaded the digital version of its publications but also has their original contents with a few reporters working for it.

On December 15, 2002 Kamana Group of Publications began newsofnepal.com. Lately all broadsheet dailies along with weeklies and smaller media are available online.

Talking about weblog or blog, the first blogsite of Nepal, United We Blog, was established on October 1, 2004. The number of blog sites is also increasing rapidly because one can start it free of cost and without much of technical knowledge.

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On Chaukathi, a short film

Threshold or Chaukathi, a 30-minute film made by my friend Deepak Rauniyar, was officially the first film to be selected to be screened at Cannes Film Festival. There were two more from Nepal same year.

Despite being screened at the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival in Kathmandu, where it was adjudged the third-best film, I had not watched it and when it got selected for Cannes, I just felt like I should have watched it.

Deepak was surprised when I asked him, after he returned from Paris, to inform me to screening of it. He promised he would and he invited me today at Kumari, where the film will be screened just before Terminator Salvation [oddly enough to comment] on the ticket for English movie.

To be true, I didn’t expect anything ‘very good’ from Deepak, a close-friend during our jobs at Nepal Samacharpatra daily. But he proved to be beyond my expectations; although I feel there are still a lot to be improved.

threshold

So, what’s the Chaukathi all about? It’s a story of a woman, educated till standard 10 before marriage, who is amazed by the talks of a census data collector woman. The woman says the household Tarai woman that she left her husband because it did not just worked. Then, during the night, when her husband asks her for an intercourse, he refuses and leaves the room as she was in no mood for it.

Very simple storyline but told nicely – a strong message of women empowerment. I loved a few things about it:

  1. There is no villain, even the husband of Saraswoti Gupta, the woman, loves her dearly.
  2. Messages are told vividly yet nothing like preaching.
  3. Natural story – I didn’t felt like even a piece of it can not happen in my neighborhood.

Rooms for improvement: yes, the film is unnecessarily long – it will lose nothing if brought down to 20 minutes; acting is not the best; in few scenes camerawork/editing leaves scars.

Somewhere in Facebook, Deepak wrote that a popular commercial director told him that since the film is produced/written/directed/edited by him, only he would watch it. I am not interested in what he answered, but here is my answer: it is a lot better than a few of your films that I have watched.

And, before I conclude here is an encouraging comment from a man sitting behind me: It looks like a Hindi film dubbed in Nepali. Well done, Deepak!

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Changing faces of Nepal’s news sites

In last few months – three top news sites of Nepal namely eKantipur.com [the new name for KantipurOnline.com], TheHimalayanTimes.com [the online venture of APCA House which publishes The Himalayan Times English daily] and the old gold NepalNews.com changed their designs [and updating frequency].

Here are the two screenshots of these sites for comparison:

eKantipur in January, 2009

ekanjan09

Changed eKantipur

ekannow

Old face of NepalNews

nnold

And, NepalNews’ new face

nnJune

Old TheHimalayanTimes

thtjan09

And, the complete makeover

thtnow

Why the change?
Those changes on the online news site were seen on the short span of time. Why? I believe the big reason is the arrival of MyRepublica.com [I am not telling that because I am working there]. MyRepublica.com started a few months before the publication of print edition and with all the effort of the journalists, it soon climbed to the top position forcing others to rethink about their running news site.

Anyway, it’s a good news for the online media lovers and those who prefer reading online news.

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Time to wake up!

Barbarity! Inhumanity! Heinousness! Atrocity! Savagery!

These are the synonyms that my small dictionary offered to me as I searched for the right word to define the incident that happened today at Chabahil. Sadly, I believe none of these exactly represent what I want to call it!

1

A mob attacked a stationary microbus parked on the side of the road. The passengers of the microbus were small school children – who had to ran out crying for the mob started pelting it’s windshield with stones.

How shocking is that? Since I saw the photo for the first time at around 3 PM, I am feeling bothered, a kind of numb feeling, and every time I look at these photos I feel a chill running from my heart to my back.

2

If Keshab Thoker, the photojournalist, had come to me and interpreted the event without the photos, I would never have believed him, for I thought, the peace-loving Nepali would never do such an inhuman act. But there were proofs and that left me trying to think what these innocent children were thinking at that time.

No blame game! I don’t want to blame any party or political leader or anything like that, but probably the ever-flowing news of violence had left us senseless – without any feeling – and that way we, the once proud Nepali as peace loving people, are turning savages from human.

3

Sadly, there seemed very little things we could do to stop that [and those who could help a little are not willing; for there interest comes above all including the humanity, the nation and the social welfare].

For all of us, it’s now time to wake up!

(All photos copied from myrepublica.com)

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