On top of that Nepali Press is facing a tight media gag by the government. The Communication Minister [Mr. Gokul Baskota who is on the go to be compared with Goebbels for all the stunts he is practicing now] is holding a media council act just like the Sword of Damocles over the head of press. The government came up with many ways to control media with a slap from Rs 25,000 to a million Rupees fine if the news is malicious. If any they cant pay the fine they have to serve time in jail. This fine seems not just very impractical but very malicious in its intention. How come government not know the fact journalist are paid only 15,000 per month which mean it takes more than five years to earn a million Rs. Remember it takes more than five years just to earn not to save that much money. No wonder all the umbrella groups of journalists are gathered up to stand against the government’s ban on free press right including Press Council of Nepal.
Again all the journalists are using Facebook and twitter to post their thoughts which build a pressure on concerned body to rethink on its new press gag law. It forced Press Council to form a new act named - press council act 2075 which is yet to finalize.
It's equally important to focus media person’s role in mass behavior. Press council is that body in country which act as a watchdog as well as protector of the press freedom. However, we lack substantial number of analysts in our media who can help us understand what is wrong in our media person, why they spend way too much time to tell the story of some power drunk politicians.
Some areas we should keep our eyes more than other when it comes to media persons.
Voice of Anger and Frustration : Media should not be the place for voice of anger or frustration; instead it should be the forum of those who understand what is going on around us and make mass understand about it. Media should also come out with ways to help mass to get out of the mess that goes around us. However, it seems that is just a dream now. Responsible and accountable journalists need to know it takes time to change behavior of people in every society and it takes time to change the system. I did not see much difference in the anger felt by Dil Nisani in his April 29th post or the BSF man Tej Bahadur who wanted to kill Modi. Anger spread and catch faster than flue. And that's what makes it so frustrating to control the frustration felt by the mass. What do you think why everyone wants to leave the country for better future ?
Acting Masiha : Journalists here act as if they are masiha. It's not hard to figure it out how they got infected from the ‘disease’, as our society has tremendous influence dreamland named Bollywood. Many of the journalists are fan of movie Nayak. Journalist Rabi Lamichhane once did the same style of interview that caught the attention of mass; not surprisingly it went viral. Acting as if he too is the lead character as played by Anil Kapoor in the movie. Many journalist act like masiha as if politicians are devil, someone who gets out from the big corruption all the time. When I use the word devil here I think it's a must for me to tell you what Christiane Amanpour taught me about the word ‘evil’. Couple of years ago, when a christian woman came on her show and used word evil; she interrupted her in the beginning of interview, saying I don't like this word because this is the extreme way to describe your opponent. In western society journalist makes us understand rather than react. Here journalist makes everything appear so big which can not be corrected during our lifetime. Not surprisingly not a single politician ever faced a serious court punishment.
Creating GOD : Its irony that we have journalists who act like masiha on one side and then on the other side they also make politicians GOD. How ? Blaming everything to politicians or people in power for everything that goes wrong in our which is very unrealistic approach to life and hoping almost a superhuman expectations from them. We must understand it, they are not GOD nor we should ask them all the questions only god can answer. There are times journalist should remember the hard work of two young journalists from US. In US the team of Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein with the help of deep throat [ which was the voice of Edgar Hoover then FBI chief] made the President Nixon resign from his position. When Nixon acted like untouchables journalists did something which was unheard of until then.
Undermining Picture Power : Recently, I saw in one feature, Kantipur drew a picture of a big hand and half back side of a man which was wearing a camouflage dress; clear hint that it was army man. In front of that giant figure, a teenage girl almost appeared toy who shrunk under fear. That picture portrayed army men being so big, powerful and untouchable even media can not help young girls being the victims. Again a big hint you need a god to protect your young girls from those who has big lust. Seeing that picture a question crossed my mind, if army men are terrorizing young girls in our country then what is the role of media ? are they trying to help young girls from those big bully or Kantipur is using a psychological tactics to scare young girls and the mother of young girls to be even more scared from those who act above law ? If they did not know then what is the use of giant picture in media like that ? Is not this the work of media to remind army men how big you are or your lust could be, there is justice system that can bring you down under law. Does this mean Kantipur thinks army men’s lust is bigger than its media presence in our society ?
Killings of journalists : Recently a journalist and woman’s right activist and campaigner was gun down by extremist group on broad daylight of Kabul. This news link took me back to the Charlie Hebdo episode in France just couple of years before in which 12 journalists including a woman were killed. Although, they said they won't harm a woman. World leaders of that time had marched hand in hand to show their solidarity with Charlie Hebdo. Charlie Hebdo’s also have got the support from court do what they were doing. Personally, I will not side with the one who speaks or sketch something that provokes the thought of opponents. When somebody feels comfortable to disrespect one entire community’s God repeatedly without any respect to those who follow him, one of them will take extreme action. Charlie Hebdo left a question how much is too much in freedom of speech. We condemn the killing of journalists, but we can't change the mind of those who slain them. The hard act would have been to stop them doing what they did. But both practiced what they strongly believed. to That is why it is up to the conscience of journalists to know the consequences of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is not just speaking the truth but also knowing the rules which is you can't hurt, insult, degrade, demean or disrespect when you speak truth. And if that speaking affects bigger mass for longer time than we can remember then why not know the line; there are some opinions that is better if we keep within yourself. Practicing freedom of speech does not mean we undermine others feeling emotion or entire community's belief system. Others also have right to speak their mind or take action in anger.
Small mistake big impact on economy : Couple of years ago some tomato farmers got mad with vegetable market here in Kalimati due to the unsettled rate for the juicy fruit. In their anger some farmers threw tomatoes on street instead of selling it on lower price. The next day an irresponsible authority from the market issued a statement, the farmers who threw their tomatoes had harmful chemicals in it. It may have come from defensive tactic or the slip of tongue but when the news circulated mass got scared of the chemical on tomatoes. Suddenly everyone avoided tomatoes in meal and slowly the fear passed on to other vegetables too. It really took more than a month before public started eating tomatoes. The exact data is not available but it must be millions of tons of wasted tomatoes and lost opportunity to make money on pick season. Some unwise comments in media to be precise on social media can make and break the entire economy system of the society. So it's one of the most challenging time to keep our eyes on journalists who say and write anything.
Personally speaking the biggest challenge of our media is to make our journalist know that anger, frustration, depression and ranting is not journalism. The angry buzz in media could not create enough proof to give justice to the young girl who was raped and killed and today Nirmala’s mother still seeks answer who killed her daughter. It should not be voice of our media, I mean social media should not be the place where people come and exhibit the downside of intellects writing skill, spilling wall post with vile. Sad truth is our intellect, writers, journalists, and mass; all of them have been using it to blame, be mad at, vent and rant. This is making wise people so depressing to surf news as well as Facebook. It also makes me wonder, why we love only the negative side of news that have power to make us feel so depressed. Why we forget it is media, that not only informs us, guide us and show us the way when we are lost.
- First part of this article has been published in July 14, 2019.
- This article has been published in Samhita, Asar 2076. Samhita is trimester magazine that is published by Press Council of Nepal.