Internet shutdown in 2005 was to deny people the opportunity to discuss: Prateek Pradhan

Prateek Pradhan, editor-in-chief, baahrakhari.com, recalls the Nepal King’s absolute communication clampdown in Nepal more than a dozen years ago, and discusses the lessons learned.

Ujjwal Acharya: In February, 2005, King Gyanendra cut off all communication channels, including the internet, for weeks. You were the editor of The Kathmandu Post daily newspaper. How do you remember the time?

Prateek Pradhan: I very vividly remember the day. The King was addressing the nation at around 9:30 am and he has just announced that he was taking over executive powers. It was shocking, as the country was a democracy and we never thought at that juncture that King Gyanendra would take such a bold step. At that time, I was editor of the Kathmandu Post, and I got a call from the royal Secretariat and was summoned to a meeting. The Secretary also told me that that was the last phone call he was making.

We (editors) went to the palace to meet the Secretary, and we protested. He threatened us that if we didn’t comply with the authorities, anything could happen to us. At that time, all phone lines were cut, internet was cut, and there was a kind of chaos as people didn’t know what was happening. Military surrounded all media houses; young military officers were going through all the contents we were writing. It was very difficult time for media and journalists. It was very very difficult to publish newspapers.

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(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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