Connected via Social Media

The latest buzz is social media connections but I wonder how can journalists use there effectively.

The rise of social networking and microblogging in the recent past has changed the idea of relationship, sharing and remaining connected to each other. In the virtual world of computers and waves, life is almost null without the connections – via web services – to people you know/may know/seem like known.

Friends not in social network or twitter follows are almost forgotten and everything is known about the people in your connection though never physically met or talked. Welcome to the virtual world that’s increasingly having affects on our personal lives in an unprecedented way.

It’s interesting to see how new web services are taken by whelms and people start searching a way to utilize that particular services for their benefits.

The latest buzz is all about social networking (facebook), video sharing (youtube) and microblogging (twitter) and it’s not surprising to find, on the web, articles with best use of these in various fields – business, fight for democracy, organizing protest, promoting events, literature and everything… including journalism.

Twitter, a service that can also be easily updated using mobiles (GPRS/sms), became a source of information for the world, including journalists, for the protest post-election of Iran. Blogs were atop the table during Iraq war and… Nepal’s fight for democracy, but the buzz of blogs seems subsidized for now.

Being in the developing world, for us, has a benefit of itself: watch everything before actual use. Same with social media; journalists in Nepal are hardly using facebook/twitter to aid their works [of course facebook updates are news, news and more news…].

How journalists can use all these connections effectively? That many are looking the answer for and some technology to facilitate. The use of social media connections to aid journalistic works – coined by Publish2 – is social journalism.

How can social connections be used for journalism? Of course, we can follow the updates on what’s happening [be audience first to gather and produce] or we can take the lead from such updates [that could happen, but not very frequently] and more effective ways, I have found, is use it as a tool of information gathering – small inputs from a few friends make it big.

Sharing is also interesting as an audience but many of the journalists hardly practice sharing in a level to help journalists.

For now, for us, the journalists in Nepal – a developing country – life is just connected without many aids to our work [internet still seems elusive to many of us] but the future of journalism – even here – is closely connected: to the social media, to the people we know/may know/seems like know.

I am not very clear on how this all could be done; and I am trying to find out via the social journalism network.  If you have any experience, share it.

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Chisapani: the coolness of hiking

Height: 2194m from sea-level
Distance: 14km walk (mostly uphill) from Sundarijal, Kathmandu

Walking uphill, especially on stone steps till you reach the end of Mulkharkha, is not easy but the rewards you get then after – almost three more hours of walk through the jungle of Shivapuri Wildlife Reserve and the place called Chisapani on a hilltop – are lifetime experience.

The most important thing not to miss on the way is the Kharka [plain grazing land on the hills] just five minutes uphill from the last house/teashop of Mulkharka.

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The plain, with greenery and beautiful green hills behind, is somewhat hidden from the hiking path but it’s walking on it was one of the best part of the hike.

During the uphill walk, the local life and the Kathmandu Valley down below are something to watch.

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I saw no animal on the jungle walk but the peace it gives to soul made me forget the aches on legs.

Chisapani itself is not a big village, only a few houses – half of them lodges. No mobiles. But it’s cool – for the cool breeze, for the fog that comes and goes covering hills.

From Chisapani, though my team walked back, we could have walked six hours to reach Nagarkot.

“That’s nice of you, we all Nepali should see our own country,” a villager told us after knowing we hiked to Chisapani. And, I agree.

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Wanted: Bloggers

himalI am pretty sure that this is the first time a media house in Nepal has advertised vacancy for bloggers. Himal Southasian – a regional magazine published by the not-for-profit The Southasia Trust, Lalitpur has the vacancy for bloggers who can write for their blog.

The downside of the job is that it’s an unpaid assignment requiring a blogger to write twice a week exclusively for their upcoming blog.

The perks of the job, according to the advertisement, are: a platform and quality readership to gain experience and furnish skills as a writer; sharing the blog-space with distinguished and well-known writers, the individual will gain the opportunity to build a fine reputation as a blogger and artistic freedom to write on any/all subject that are not offensive in nature including literature, politics, culture, music, economics, society, etc., as they pertain to Southasia.

Deadline for applications is August 10, 2009. Here is the advertisement.

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History of Sport Journalism in Nepal

(This is the an excerpt from my post-graduation thesis – Sports Press in Nepal: A Survey of Sports Pages of the Daily Newspapers. See bottom of this post for more information.)

Sports journalism is defined as the collection, editing and disseminating the news about the activities of sports. (Acharya, 1998) When there is talk about the involvement of media in the development of sports, it is referred to its vital role in disseminating the sports events. (Shakya, 1999)

Sports journalism started getting importance only after 1985. At that time, there were only two broadsheet dailies, Gorkhapatra and The Rising Nepal. Not to talk of a separate page for sports in the newspapers of those days, even the coverage of sports events were very scant. (Shakya, 1999)

The history of sports journalism in Nepal begins with Sporting Times, a sports magazine published in 1956. (Acharya, 1998) Edited by Manindra Raj Shrestha, it was English fortnightly. (Shakya, 1999) It ceased publication after a few issues. (Acharya, 1998).

In 1960, Shyam KC began Sportsman monthly which also ceased publication soon. (Acharya, 1998) This publication played crucial role in enhancing sports journalism. (Gyawali, 2003) Since then a number of sports magazines were published but none of them were published on regular basis. (Shakya, 1999)

In 1967, Rangasala was published under editorship of Rajendra Bahadur Shrestha and National Sports Council published a sports magazine Khel Ra Kheladi a year later. Both of these could not continue. In 1974, NSC began a quarterly publication, Khelkud Ra Janajivan, which was also closed after three issues.

It’s debatable that why NSC, a government body, with yearly budget could not continue the publication. (Silwal, 2005) NSC also began sports programs in Radio Nepal and Nepal Television but that too were short-lived.

Subodh Giri began Khel Jagat in 1979 which irregularly continued till 1987. The sole cause of the irregularity in publication was source of funding as well as lack of trained sports journalists (Gyawali, 2003). Magazines under the flagship of Sports Nepal, Khelkud Manch and Khel Sansar were seen in the market in early 90s, but all of them have closed down now.

Historically, there has been frequent publication of sports magazine but all of them ceased publication after a few issues. The main reason for the closure of all these publication was financial instability. Lack of financial resources for the publication, lack of advertisements and small market caused the shutdown of sports magazines. (Silwal, 2006)

It was The Rising Nepal that has given priority to sports news from the day of its inception. (Silwal, 2006) Even so, daily newspapers didn’t have a separate sports page until early 90s. After 1990, national daily newspaper started separating a sports page which is continued till today. This is a positive aspect of sports journalism (Gyawali, 2003)

The current situation is that every daily newspaper has a separate sports page but still though they are not serious about the sports news. (Acharya, 1998) There were various problems for leading newspapers on sports reporting, one of them was irregularities and sadly, that continues in present context too. (Acharya, 2001)

Sports news has long been the ‘necessary fillers’ something that can’t be missed but also something that doesn’t hold much importance.

Electronic media have begun understanding the importance of events as they have started live broadcasting such events and giving good coverage. The AFC President’s Cup football tournament was not only broadcasted live on Nepal Television, it was also live on Kantipur FM.

Similarly, Nepal Television has bought rights of football and cricket for next four to five years paying a handsome amount. Live broadcasting of cricket or football matches is not new for Nepali television channels these days with NTV being the front-runner. Despite all that, electronic media have not yet been able to give importance to sports news. (Silwal, 2005)

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Websites of Nepali Politicians

The latest to join the fray is Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.

The much-hyped website is that of former finance minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai.

The almost unknown blogger is former science minister Ganesh Shah.

The ‘Nepali Congress’ leader website is that of Narahari Acharya.

And, ‘coming soon’ is Gagan Thapa.

Probably most of these websites, these websites are not maintained by the politicians themselves but it at least proves a thing – Nepali politicians now understand the importance of online presence and the ‘archival / easy retrieval value’ of website.

Nepal, a Nepali weekly magazine, recently published an article titled “Celebrity Bloggers”.

Here are quotes from the politicians on why they maintain their websites:

“Website has fulfilled my desire to reach more people.” – Dr. Baburam Bhattarai

“People are only listening to me, now I want to hear what they say.” – Gagan Thapa

“I want everybody to know my opinion.” – Narahari Acharya

The possible outreach is the main attraction of the blog and the responses from visitors is something that they are interested in. In coming days, more and more politicians will join the fray and this will, let’s hope, good for us and them.

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