Background Journalism in this small Himalayan country is yet to belucrative profession for many aspiring journalist. Sad yet truemany journalists across the country have been fighting to getpaid with minimum wages and intimidation, attack,misbehave and atrocities have been a common phenomena atthe country. In 2012, one journalist was killed and numerous otherswere attacked and received threats in connection with theirreports. Freedom of Press and of Expression was challengedby both government and non-government actors.
Incidents of Press Freedom Violationduring 2012 In 2012, one journalist was killed and numerous others were attacked and received threats in connection with their reports. Freedom of Press and of Expression was challenged by both government and non-government actors. A study carried by Freedom Forum, an organization working to promote press freedom situation in the country showed that a total of 147 incidents of press freedom violation occurred in Nepal during the year 2012. In 2011, a total of 96 such incidents were recorded by the organization.
Detail of Incidents Closure 1 press vehicle torch 6 Book torched -- 1 intimidation -- 3 Disappearance -- 1 Journalists under control -- 3 Loot -- 3 Threats – 14
Detail of Incidents Verbal Abuse -- 1 Newspaper Burnt -- 9 Vandalism -- 23 Attack -- 32 Death threat -- 23 Murder -- 1 Severe Injury -- 3 Manhandle -- 23 (Source: Freedom Forum Nepal)
Killing of Yadav Paudel in 2012 Killing of journalist Yadav Poudel from Jhapa -- a district in the southern plain of Nepal on April 3, 2012 left Nepali media panicked. It obviously ruined the morale of journalists across the country. Although the murderers of journalist Poudel have already been punished with life-time imprisonment, the hostile atmosphere for free reporting is still looming. Media workers in Jhapa are still agitated and agonized with fear psychology with no assurance of security from the government side.
Communal, ethnic and regional tensionsand media The country is still struggling to complete the transition from a monarchy to a federal republic and no one can predict the future of democracy at this juncture of time in the country. It is a sharp rise as situation grew remarkably hostile during the months on the eve of the collapse of Constituent Assembly that was supposed to promulgate new constitution in May 27, 2012. Journalists and media outlets were at the receiving end during this period. Three days- May 20-22, of 2012 remained black days in Nepali media. It was worrying that government remained mum on the perpetrators of media freedom during these days
Dispute of minimum wages In Nepal, most of the journalists in Nepal are underpaid. The government has been failing to implement the provision of minimum wages as set by the Minimum Remuneration Fixation Committees rule. Media employers are not provided even the appointment letters to the media persons. The trend continued in 2012 and the government’s plan of implementing minimum wages had been an illusive.
Partisan Press Maoists are supporter of partisan press by principle. Partisan press has been rampant once they started to run the government in Nepal. The ruling government of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Madhes-centric political parties has funded the partisan and region-based media union and organizations- a new trend during 2012 in Nepali media. The government funding to the partisan and region-based media union has badly politicized the media which is detrimental to free and professional journalism. The Madhesi Media Forum aligned to the Madhes-centric parties of the government was provided Rs 1.5 million as training budget. (Freedom Forum)
International Fact Finding and Advocacy MediaMission o Nepal The International Fact Finding and Advocacy Mission to Nepal (also known as the International Media Mission) visited Nepal from 23 to 2 February 2012 to assess the media freedom situation in the country. The International Mission was represented by AMARC, ARTICLE 19, Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International ederation of Journalists (I J), International News Safety Institute (INSI), International Media Support (IMS), International Press Institute (IPI), Internews, Open Society Foundations (OSF), Reporters sans Frontières (RSF), South Asia Free Media Association (SA MA), South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) and UNESCO.
The International Mission’s priorityconcern: The International Mission had two priority concerns.:1. Implementation of the Working Journalists’ Act, security of employment and their compensation or working journalists2. growing threats to online freedom of expression and the application of restrictive regulations to the Internet.
The International Mission’s appeal tothe government: We call upon media owners and employers to fulfill their legal obligations under the Working Journalists’ Act by signing secure employment agreements with journalists and by paying the wages that are set pursuant to the law. We also call on the Government to fulfill its obligation to enforce the law where owners and employers do not do so.” Second, the International Mission is concerned with the growing threats to online freedom of expression and the application o restrictive regulations to the Internet.
Fragile Freedom After demise of main state organ, that is, legislature, the country faced major setbacks in democracy. Whether due to violence by criminal groups, as in southern Terai, or government hostility to media criticism, media freedom was on the defensive in the country. Monitoring agencies have weaken and the government wants media houses to be entirely its mouthpiece which will have adverse impact in professional journalism in the days to come.
IFJ says, “working conditions remaindismal” As reported in the South Asia Press Freedom Report for 2011, a committee formed under the WJA pointed out in a report submitted November 2010, that 37 percent of the country’s (Nepal’s) journalists are paid below the prescribed minimum wage, while 45 percent are working without letters of appointment. Among the media houses surveyed, 48 percent had failed to introduce basic measures such as retirement and welfare funds, medical cover and insurance.
Lip Service not Enough As a journalist in Biratnagar town told the International Media Mission of February 2012: “The political parties rule the law, they are not ruled by the law. Until this changes, nothing changes”. There has been too much back-and-forth between media and political parties in fixing responsibility for unsettled and often hostile relations. Media organizations recognize that it is time to implement sound ethical guidelines as part of their internal editorial process. But they are not yet ready to take full responsibility for the consequences arising from violence against journalists. (International Federation of Journalist)
Ethical Dimension should be encouraged As a watchdog of government and society, journalists should not forget ethical values and professionals standards. Journalism is business but it is not just like another business. In 2012, the trend of some unethical practices from journalists also emerged in the country which can be dubbed as a stumbling block to the professional journalism.
The smarter the journalists are, the better off societyis. For to a degree, people read the press to informthemselves-and the better the teacher, the better thestudent body.- Warren BuffettSiromani DhunganaResearcher, Journalist & Media EducatorKathmandu, NepalEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com