An enemy within

[Paraphrase of some interesting points of two speeches during the launching of a book entitled MBM Anthology of Media Ethics edited by my friend Bhuwan KC. The speeches were those of Minister for Communication and Information Shankar Pokharel and Professor P Kharel.]

Shankar Pokharel

Politicians and/or political parties use media for two reasons: either to establish their opinion or to bargain on certain political interest. Political news without quoting sources is less information/facts and more message of political interest.

Journalists should always use multiple sources on sensitive news.

Media prioritize on making an issue controversial rather than making news creditable. This makes news focusing on negative side. The tendency to covering news on its positive aspects is lacking.

While reading news, we find that the reporters speak from within the news. This, I believe, is a legacy of mission journalism when journalists could not find anyone to speak and people were not free to speak as freely as the journalists.

The change is also needed in the diversified coverage. Media is centered in political issues while the social change requires media also focusing on financial and social issues.

Media also have to be play role in national interest. Media coverage of Iraq war by US media and Mumbai attack by Indian media are some examples. US media covered bad news about the war only after the war ended. I wonder if incident similar to Mumbai attack had happened in Nepal, our media would have criticizing long time taken by police to end the seizure.

Prof. P Kharel

Nepali media has to be clear in a few aspects of media ethics.

The first is on being activists of political parties. Should journalists be political activists or not?

The second is media need to clarify on junket / gifts. Free trips and/or gifts makes journalists more inclined to cover issues for those benefits. Media need to have clear policy on those aspects. I am not saying it’s wrong, but at least media need to develop a kind of policy which does stop individual journalist from seeking such favors from INGOs/embassies/ministries through media coverage.

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The title of this post came from a small story that Nirmala Mani Adhikary said during his welcome speech. Once Buddha asked a King who was building big walls to protect his palace: the wall would save you from outer enemies but what would save you from the enemies within your palace?

Minister Pokharel recalled the story and said there are no ways in modern democracy that the state could make public policy or laws or regulations against freedom of press; and in such scenario the biggest enemy of the media’s professional development is non-implementation of ethics.

I agreed!

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The book MBM Anthology on Media Ethics is published by Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the Madan Bhandari Memorial College and it’s Communication Study Center and edited by Bhuwan KC. It has four articles: Development of journalistic ethics in Nepal (by Yam Bahadur Dura), Practices of Journalistic Ethics in Nepal (by Bhuwan KC), Looking for a common ground: Ethical practices in South Asian media (by Indra Dhoj Kshetri) and Manusmriti as a resource of media ethics (by Nirmala Mani Adhikary).

I reckon this book a very useful resource for media students and those interested in media for some valuable articles and the collection of all media ethic documents of Nepal (in annexes).

A disclaimer: I was involved as a copy editor in the book.

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A game of neighbors

A game of football is all about scoring. A player needs to penetrate into the opponent’s area to score goals – and if the defense is not good, then there will be more room to play for the opponents. Every goal is scored because of a weakness!

The game of politics is similar – not same because the number of players is not equal; there are not strict referees or rules! More so, when it’s a game of diplomacy [or diplomatic relations]! And, the topmost point on saving your game is that: don’t let opponents the playing space!

* * *

Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) was at his best [either for honesty or satire] when he addressed the mass meeting at New Baneshwor after the conclusion of two-and-half-day of general strike.

Here is a piece of what he said [copied from myrepublica.com / ekantipur.com]

Why talk to puppets here in Nepal? I have no energy for talks with the leaders of the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress. Now the talks will only be with the master.

We are ready to hold talks with New Delhi.

It’s a pity that the parties are helpless when it comes to taking any decision on their own as they are remote-controlled by New Delhi.

Was this a self-realization? Or an outcry for not being helped by India to form their government? Or simply the truth?

Many people I listened to at the teashops believe it’s the truth that Nepali political parties are puppets to our big neighbors. But along with that all of them believe that what Prachanda said including all the bad things about India was simply an outcry because the Maoists were not favored by New Delhi.

* * *

Most of the times, the truth is bitter to swallow.

And, the truth is that India is a powerful neighbor on which we depend on many things. All over the world, it’s not a new thing that the smaller countries are dominated by big neighbors.

However, we are in better than many other countries’ position because we are in-between two future superpowers. A perfect balance in diplomacy could help us in our benefits.

Yes, the Indians are playing with our internal matters. They are because there are a lot of things they can gain from us – mainly in resource-sharing sector. But then who to blame?

In football, it’s more blame on your side than to the opponents. The opponents are there to score; it’s your weakness to let then score.

The Indians want benefits (in fact everybody wants benefits, including the political parties and leaders – only difference could be for the country or the party). And, it’s our weakness that they are using to play on us.

* * *

What Prachanda said is a shame for them; for us. Because it came from the mouth of a former prime minister who has still a long years left in which he is well-placed to become the nation’s top leader.

To speak against any neighboring or non-neighboring friendly nation on mass gathering is a foolish thing on the part of the leaders of his height. There is no gain of it other than a thousand more claps in the program and a mockery in the newspapers.

God bless us!

More on topic:

Roundup of media coverage on Prachanda’s speech @ The Brief

Irresponsible and senseless [editorial] @ Republica

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Simply inhuman

Killing anyone is a crime itself. Killing someone for criticism is an act of people who have already lost a portion of humanism. Attempting to kill a journalist for what she wrote – that too by gradually cutting her right fingers and pushing off a cliff – is simply inhuman.

Tika Bista, a 22-year-old Rukum-based lady journalist, was brutally attacked for murder and thrown on the 20-meter deep cliff and left to die. She was found next day, airlifted to Kathmandu for further treatment and she is still fighting for life.

A few things indicate that the attackers though unknown as yet are Maoists.

Reports say Bista had been receiving phone threats in connection with her recent commentary on local Jantidhara weekly titled – “Why Maoists need Tirtha’s sindoor?”

She wrote the article in response of Maoists using a slogan about martial symbol (sindoor) of former MP Tirtha Gautam, widowed due to murder of her husband by the Maoists in 1999, while waving black flags to a minister.

Bista had issued a press release last week on the threats she was receiving from unknown people after the article was published.

While talking to her friend at the Nepalgunj Hospital when she regained consciousness briefly, Bista quoted a male threatening her on mobile as saying:

Writing about the widows?.. Should I send you to heaven? Yadu Gautam is already there and you can meet him there.

According to The Himalayan Times, the brave journalist told the friend: I’ll never be intimidated by such attacks. Nor do I want my name to be among killed journalists.

Such first-degree murder attempt to people for what they write/think/believe should stop!

NepaliVoices strongly condemn the attack and demand government to arrest and punish those involved!

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Nepal Cabinet meets at Everest!

December 4, 2009. A date to remember because Nepal government created a world record by holding a cabinet meeting at Kala Patthar – 5,5542m / 18,192 ft above sea level.

cabinet

The meeting was held to create awareness about melting in the Himalaya due to human-induced climate change.

For a few things, I feel good about the meeting:

  • The first and foremost important is it generated the awareness about melting of Himalaya. A few years back, there were a lot of concern (media coverage) about Cho Rolpa lake which was on the verge of exploding and if that had happened, there could have been a big problem in quite a large area – places on the banks of river Tamakoshi. The risk was reduced spending a good sum of money. But there are some other such lakes high on the Himalaya that could break free and flood into us.
  • The second is the coverage Nepal got through the event will help boost Nepali tourism. I would love to take a photograph at the Kala Patthar helipad where the meeting took place. Why not put a stone sculpture marking the venue?

Climate Change is a big issue, and as Nepal can not rule itself out of danger coming from rising sea level no country can rule itself out of dangers arising from melting Himalaya. Climate change effects are global and it needs a consolidated and honest effort to fight it.

Not a single country or a group of nations can fight climate change; that’s the truth. For saving our mother earth to our future generation, all individuals and individual countries have to work together. Unity is the key to fight climate change.

Nepal is nothing on the economic and/or political map of the world; but the concern raised by it [and the even smaller Maldives during their undersea cabinet meeting] has given people around the world a smile [what the heck!..] but that way they will also think about climate change!

The message given by Nepal’s cabinet meeting at the Everest region was loud and clear: [as put forward by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal] “Climate change is not only issue of the mountainous nations or nations at the sea level, it´s a common issue of all. To save the earth, the biggest sacrifice is needed from the nations producing large amount of carbon.

Questioning NTV live

Two disturbing observations about Nepal Television’s live coverage:

  • Nepal Television’s ‘live coverage’ of the meeting itself. The tape brought early from Kala Patthar was broadcasted as if it was live. The announcer was describing the event as if it was happening right then. I knew it was not because it was broadcasted after we were informed from the journalists at Kala Patthar that the meeting had concluded.

ntv

  • As the ministers arrived back to Syangboche, a TV presenter described the decisions made by the cabinet ahead of the press conference in which the cabinet described the thing. Understandable fact is that the presenter received a copy of decisions, but was it ethical to announce that by himself ahead of ‘official announcement’?
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