Sunday, September 29, 2013

"The Oregonian" also jumps on the "digital journalism" bandwagon

Rabin Man Shakya

"The Oregonian" is a city newspaper published in Portland, Oregon. But the newspaper is also distributed across the state of Oregon and some  neighboring parts of the state of Washington.

The Oregonian is about 50 years older than the Gorkhapatra, the grand old lady of the Nepalese journalism. The Oregonian was launched as a weekly newspaper in 1850 and the Gorkhapatra was also launched as a weekly newspaper in 1901 in Kathmandu.

The Oregonian, though a city newspaper, is one of the fifty largely circulated newspapers of the US. The newspaper has been awarded with prestigious Pulitzer Prize for seven times.

The Oregonian is the only general-interest daily newspaper serving Portland in particular and Oregon in general. This means there are no other daily subscription newspapers in Portland, though other cities of Oregon do have their own daily newspapers that are confined to their respective cities.

Across the US, thousands of local newspapers are published and distributed free of charge in newspaper boxes and at market place venues all over the US cities. The prominent freely distributed newspapers of Portland are: The Willamette weekly, The Portland Mercury Weekly and The Asian Reporter fortnightly newspaper.

Meanwhile, "The Oregonian" is currently making headlines in the newspapers of Oregon and Washington because it is going to curb home delivery to four-days-a-week. The newspaper is also going to lay off some staff as it is reorganizing its operations in order to jump on the "digital journalism" bandwagon.

Under the headline "A new era of digital journalism", a publisher's note was published on the front page of  The Oregonian on September 29, 2013 in which N. Christian Anderson, president of Oregonian Media Group explained  the reasons for moving to four-day-a-week home delivery.

"First, the marketplace dictates that if we are going to grow as a company, we need to be where our audience is. We're experiencing significant growth in both our digital audience and our digital advertising revenue," said Anderson.

Anderson went on to say,"Our new strategy is aimed at expanding our audience even more rapidly in the months and years ahead. One of the concerns we've heard about our new digital strategy is that we won't have serious journalism anymore. We will."

Well, is there any difference between reading The New York Times or The Oregonian in a real newspaper format and going through them in the digital format? Yes, for me there are lots of differences. And I believe I'm not alone to say this.

Print Media in the US on the Decline

Rabin Man Shakya

US print journalism is divided mainly into two categories: national and city newspapers. The three newspapers: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The USA Today are the only national newspapers which are circulated nationwide. All other newspapers are city newspapers which are confined to the respective cities. Some newspapers like the IBD and the Barrons weekly are also circulated nationwide, but their circulation is limited.

Among them some city newspapers are circulated across the respective states. For example, Dallas Morning News published in Dallas is circulated across Texas and The Oregonian published in Portland is distributed across the state of Oregon.

At a time when newspaper industry is booming in developing countries like Nepal, India, Myanmar, Bangladesh and so on, the print journalism is slowly and constantly on the decline in advanced countries like the US, paving the way for digital journalism.

While some daily newspapers have absolutely ceased their "print" publication and have opted for digital journalism, a number of daily newspapers in the US have moved to thrice-a-week publication, and many daily newspapers have moved to thrice-a-week home delivery.

On the one hand, advertising revenue of the daily newspapers of the US is on the decline and on the other hand the overall expenditure of the newspapers are on the rise. Therefore, laying off of the staff and moving to thrice-a-week or four-days-a-week publication are the only option left for  a number of newspapers. And this is not a choice, but just a compulsion or a forced move for the newspapers for their survival.

Some American newspapers moving to thrice-a-week publication or thrice-a-week home delivery are "Birmingham News" of Alabama (daily circulation: 103,000), "The Advocate" of Louisiana (98,000), "Grand Rapids Press" of Michigan (95,000), "The Patriot News" of Pennsylvania (89,000), "The Post Standard" of New York (76,000), "The Oregonian" of Oregon (220,000). And these are just the tips of the iceberg.

And many more US newspapers are planning to cease publication thereby choosing digital journalism and many more daily newspapers are moving to thrice-a-week home delivery. Bad news for the American newspapers, of course.

In this context, Ken Doctor, the media analyst and author of the book and Website "Newsonomics" said:"Since 2004-05, the height of revenue in the industry, newspaper advertising revenue has declined by $27 billion, or more than 50 percent."

Last year, print advertising declined by 9 percent, "a huge loss in the midst of an economic recovery," Doctor said.

Stressing that the major driver of this change is the devastating loss of print advertising, Doctor asserted:"They are not maintaining their share in what is the biggest advertising boom in history."

Yet newspapers rely on advertising for roughly 73 percent of their revenue, he said adding, digital advertising generate only as much as 15 percent overall ad revenue.

Doctor went on to say:"So, while advertising on Google and other Websites now surpasses advertising in print, digital ads at newspapers aren't growing at the same rate."

Well, the prediction of Canadian media guru late Marshall McLuhan still in the late 1960s about the annihilation of the printed word by the electronic media have some relevance in this context.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Media booming in Nepal

Rabin Man Shakya

Prior to moving to the US with my family in 2002, I used to wear two hats in Nepal. The first one was the hat of a journalism lecturer and the second one was that of a journalist.

Now if someone asks me which hat did I like more, I'd reply him or her at the drop of the hat: "the hat of a journalism lecturer." Just kidding.

Now seriously speaking, as a media related guy, I am so overwhelmed to know that media landscape is changing very fast in Nepal.

Technological innovations, political change and liberalization have caused a sea change in Nepalese journalism and Nepal's media education scenario. It is a matter of great satisfaction to know that today there are at least 200 plus two campuses, 40 BA level campuses and three universities providing  courses in journalism and mass communication.

When I was a lecturer of journalism in Nepal, RR Campus and People's Campus were pretty much the campuses offering journalism courses. Fortunately, I was associated with both the campuses prior to 2002.

Thank God, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge of Bagmati and media education and journalism scenario of Nepal  have seen tremendous changes: quantitative as well as qualitative.

I am so glad to know there are 34 FM radio stations in Kathmandu alone and more than 300 FMs all over Nepal. And there are 16 TV channels in Nepal. Actually, newspaper industry and media business are booming in Nepal.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Issa Bassam - My Amigo from Syria

Dr Rabin Man Shakya

Syrian conflict has been making international headlines for last two years. Despite all kinds of international diplomacy and negotiations, there is no hope any time soon of any breakthrough in Syrian civil war which has taken a colossal toll of human life: more than a hundred thousand deaths.

I am not a political analyst, but it does not take a genius to understand that quid pro quo is crucial in the international diplomacy. US, Russia, Syria and Iran should be as flexible as possible in order to break the Syrian deadlock.

But whenever I confront with Syria headlines in newspapers and TV channels, the face of a Syrian guy just sort of comes back to me at once: Issa Bassam.

Issa was a Phd student in Philosophy at the Belorussian State University(BSU) in Minsk where I was also a PhD post graduate student in Journalism. We lived together in the same BSU 12-story hostel in Minsk.

Issa had good sense of humour. He was a happy-go-lucky type guy who never got mad at me even when I made some kind of offensive remarks at him and Baath Party and the then president Hafez al-Assad. It was because of him that I got acquainted with some Arab phrases and words. Obviously, we interacted and communicated in Russian with each other. And it was because of him I was familiar with some kind of Syrian Arab cuisines.

However, I had a lot of friends from different countries studying at the BSU. Issa was one of them. We spent time hanging out in Minsk cafes, parks and thoroughfares. I remember Komsomolskoye Ozero, a man-made lake in Minsk and I also remember Leninsky Avenue was one of Minsk's busiest thoroughfares.

According to Issa, unlike majority of Syrians, he belonged to a minority Christian community in Syria. I was friend with Issa during 1986-1989. Issa never criticized Hafez al-Assad, the then President of Syria, the father of Bashar al-Assad, the incumbent tyrant of Syria.The name of Bashar was no where to be heard at that time.

That was totally a different time in recent history. The world was in the grip of the Cold War fever.There were two Super Powers:  the US and the former USSR. The former Soviet Union played a significant role in Syria's poliitical, military and socio-political development. Syria always was  the close ally of the former Soviet Union. In Syria,there is still a Russian military base which is reminiscent of the Cold War rivalry. Apart from the strategic concern,Russia has some humane interest too in Syria.

Thousands of Syrian college students and post-graduate students who studied in different former Soviet universities and colleges were married to Russian women. My friend Issa was also married to a Belorussian woman in Minsk. By the way, there was a news story last year in the New York Times about the dilemma facing Russian women in Syria.

Ever since I came back to Nepal in 1989 after completing my studies in the former USSR, I did not have any kind of contact or communication with my Syrian amigo, unfortunately. Hopefully, he is alive and kicking.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Role of media in the battle against the bottle

Dr Rabin Man Shakya

Millions of people die every year because of alcohol and alcohol related diseases and accidents. Millions are battling and struggling against alcoholism.

The media in today's world exercises tremendous influences in the way people think and behave. The media is one of the strongest weapons in showing the world the devastating consequences of alcoholism and intoxication. There is no doubt that there is a great role of the media in the battle against bottles.

Alcoholism in general and alcohol use by teenagers is a prime health concern not only of advanced countries like US, Canada, Russia etc, but for a small and underdeveloped country like Nepal, alcoholism is also posing as a serious challenge.

According to American researchers, adolescents who begin to drink at an early age are at higher risk for injury, illness, long term alcohol use, or even death related to alcohol use.

Hence, there is a great role that the print and electronic media as well as the social media should play for increasing anti-alcohol awareness.

The media should print and broadcast more and more alcohol-related news stories and articles depicting the devastating after-effects of intoxication. Newspapers should publish warning advertisements about bad consequences of liquor in a daily basis, and TV channels and FMs should remind the audience and listeners about the catastrophic sufferings of the people because of intoxication-related accidents and diseases.

Sincere attempts should be made to reduce scenes of alcohol use in movies and TV serials.  It is a matter of great satisfaction that advertisement of liquor is prohibited in the print as well as electronic media of Nepal.

Meanwhile, an interesting aspect of the American journalism is that the print as well as the electronic media here have been giving due coverage to the news and views related to the devastating effects of alcohol.

For example, USA Today published a news story under the headline "1 in 10 high school seniors drink to extremes" on September 17, 2013.

The USA Today news story went on: "Plenty of high school seniors are binge drinkers, consuming five or more alcoholic drinks in a row, but a new study shows that knock back as many as 10, 15 or more drinks in one session."

The USA Today  news story also threw light on the harms of binge drinking.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Erdogan: Epitome of Hypocrisy?

Rabin Man Shakya

The role and scope of social media is increasing everyday. Social media has served as a primary channel of criticism against injustice and wrong doings.

Remember when a wave of demonstrations broke out in the Middle East during the 2011 Arab Spring, protesters turned to social media to share information with an international audience.

Social media helps people mobilize and organize and it helps audience and reporters from afar keep track of different sources and perspectives.

Social media is playing a big role as a custodian of democracy and human rights abuse. Just like the mainstream media, the social media is enhancing its role and presence as a watchdog against authoritarianism.

It is no wonder that some authoritarian governments and powerful political parties are vulnerable to the social media sites. Therefore, some countries are trying to step up their presence in the social media sites by employing thousands of youths to that effect. China is prominently one of these countries and according to a Wall Street Journal news story, Turkey has jumped on the social media bandwagon.

The Wall Street Journal published a news story on September 17, 2013 under the headline "Turkey takes on social media" that begins with: "Turkey's ruling party, facing the threat of fresh anti-government demonstrations, is boosting its presence in a sphere lon dominated by the opposition: social media."

The Justice and Development Party, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is recruiting a 6,000 member social media team to woo citizens and fight critics, the Wall Street Journal reported from Ankara quoting the party officials.

WSJ news story goes on: "The AKP is gradually bringing  young, tech-savvy party members to Ankara to train them in classrooms to act as volunteer social media representatives."

According to the news story, "The initiative comes after the party, which has governed Turkey since 2002, faced the biggest popular challenge to its rule in June when hundreds of thousands of Turks to the street and social media to protest against what they say called Mr. Erdogan's increasingly autocratic governing style."

The Turkish prime minister Erdogan who himself has 3.4 million Twitter followers says: "Now we have a menace that is called Twitter. The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society." (The New York Times/June 3, 2013/"Turkey premier says protest won't stop demolition."

Now, is not this the worst epitome of hypocrisy and double standard?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hey, Do You Know Who Peerlusconi Is?

Rabin Man Shakya

Reporting about the forthcoming elections in Germany, the New York Times published a news story on September 14, 2013 headlined "German Candidates Compete in Battle of Magazine Covers."

The New York Times news story detailed Germany's widely watched national election and its two main candidates who made contrasting waves with magazine covers.

According to the New York Times news story, Peer Steinbruck, the Social Democratic challenger, who has trailed chancellor Angela Merkel in polls since declaring his candidacy last fall, caused a stir by appearing on a cover of the magazine of the Suddeutsche Zeitung gesturing with his middle finger.

It turns out Peer Steinbruck has been nicknamed Peerlusconi, a play on the name of the Italian billionaire politician Silvio Berlusconi, and gesturing of his middle finger was his reaction to a question  about his nickname.

The above mentioned NYT news story reminded me of the bad habit of Nepalese journalists/ non-journalists giving bad nicknames to the Nepalese politicos. Sujata Koirala was often nicknamed Kujata Koirala and Jhala Nath Khanal was called Jhallu in the social media. Likewise, the names of other politicians too have been widely abused.

The majority of Nepalese politicians are irresponsible and corrupt and I agree their misdeeds and corrupt activities should be exposed, but I disagree with the practice of abusing the names of the politicos.
The above mentioned NYT story also reminded me of  vying of the Nepalese politicians to get better coverage in media for the upcoming CA elections.

The more coverage and headlines the politicos make in the media, the more will be direct or indirect impact on the public. Obviously, the big headlines and good media portrayal enhance their political scope.

However, the activities of the politicians should not be confined  to merely grabbing the big headlines and getting better media coverage. Better do something for the good of the people, you politicos.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Kabul Steals the Show in Kathmandu

Dr Rabin Man Shakya

Unlike Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Maldives, Afghanistan is always making headlines in the US newspapers. Given the large US troops presence and its strategic interest in Kabul, this comes as no wonder.

More often than not, Afghan coverage in American newspapers is related to the war against terror, ongoing political development and corruption that is rampant in the Afghan society.

Nevertheless, soft news features on issues of Afghan women, education, health, sanitation etc. are also published very often in the US newspapers.

Afghanistan's national football team recently made an outstanding victory at an international football championship organised in Kathmandu.

No wonder, the winning Afghan national team returned home in triumph and the event was widely reported in the US newspapers.The bottom line of the coverage of the US newspapers about the Afghan victory in Nepal was: Kabul stole the show in Kathmandu.

Under the headline "Raucous scene grips Afghan capital: Soccer Euphoria", the New York Times reported from Kabul on September 13, "The Olympic Stadium in Kabul has not seen this big a crowd since the Taliban used the place for public executions, with attendance mandatory."

"No coercion was needed on Thursday to bring tens of thousands of delirious fans here to greet their national soccer team on its championship. The underdog team stunned India, the defending South Asian champions, in 2-0 victory in Kathmandu, Nepal," went on the New York Times.

According to the US media, many of the Afghan celebrators were quick to note that for once they had something to be proud of that had nothing to do with war.

Conflicting Reporting Can Create Confusion, Chaos

Dr Rabin Man Shakya

Have you ever come across conflicting news stories in different newspapers? Or have you ever felt that the details in the news stories are, more often than not, exaggerated?

Conflicting stories are being published not only in the Nepalese newspapers, but in the newspapers of the West too.

Twelve years have past since the catastrophe of 9/11. During the process of the collapsing of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, a number of people started to jump down in a desperate sign. At that time the New York Times reported that the number of people jumping down from the tower was 50 based on eye-witness reporters and video materials.

Meanwhile, the USA Today reported that number to be 200 based on eye-witnesses, forensic evidence and video materials. This is a glaring example of conflicting news stories.

Remember when we were told that given the number of people working at the WTC on September 11, 2001, we should expect 20,000 to 40,000 dead. The actual death toll came to be 2,977. This episode and example is pretty much just the tip of the iceberg in journalism.

So, why does the conflicting detail emerge in the stories? It is mainly because of the problem of deadline and problem of egoistic attitude of "my newspaper should be the first to print the scoop."

The conflicting stories may be because of political reasons, for example, if there are tensions in the Korean Peninsula, the version of South and North Korea may be totally different. The other reason could be: the victim mentioned in the story may be giving reporters conflicting details on the events leading up to the event or accident.

The other reason of conflicting stories may be the different details and quotes of different eye-witnesses. In case of some accidents and events, sometimes witnesses and law enforcement officials may be giving totally different accounts of what led to the incident.

The probabilities and possibilities of conflicting stories are potentially high in countries where journalism is deeply polarized.

There is no doubt that conflicting stories can have a negative impact and may create confusion and chaos in the society.

Therefore, in order to prevent the conflicting details in stories, the reporters should never include facts and figures based merely on assumptions, video materials, etc.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Journalism: From Typewriter to Laptop

Dr Rabin Man Shakya

Remember when reporters had to type their news stories on a typewriter instead of directly typing them on the computer or laptop? Or when the press photographers had to use regular cameras to take photos of the events and come back to the dark room for developing and printing the photos.

It was a part of Nepalese media scenario of just 20 years before, when I started working as a journalist.

Well, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge of river Bagmati and the miracles of technology have caused a sea of change in the media and social media scenario.

In fact, the history of journalism has witnessed a lot of vicissitudes, journalism in itself is a chronicle of innovations and qualitative changes. Try to remember the historical photo of the first issue of the Gorkhapatra, the grand old lady of Nepalese journalism.

It was in the beginning of 1992 when I joined the Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS), the national news agency of Nepal as an Assistant Editor at the English desk. I continued to work at the RSS for about five months. After that, I went on to work for The Rising Nepal (TRN) also in the year 1992, when TRN was still the only broadsheet daily English newspaper of Nepal.

Well, when I started working at the media outlets like the RSS and TRN twenty years ago, journalists and reporters used typewriters, tape recorders and ordinary cameras.

Laptops, digital cameras, cell phones and other modern electronic gadgets were things I never dreamed would play any significant role in the rapid success of the newspaper industry.

Still, when I moved to the US in 2002, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on were concepts that I never imagined. What comes next is yet to be determined.

Will the increasing use of modern technology in journalism and media have positive effects or will its effects be seen as a jumble of both positive and negative?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

UCPN-Maoist Eats Humble Pie

By Rabin Man Shakya

The latest news that the UCPN-Maoist party has announced the bandh (shutdown strike) it has imposed in the Kathmandu valley, including Chitwan and Gorkha districts on Sunday to protest against the arrest of a party cadre accused of conflict-era murder has again raised questions about the impunity of the political parties, their bosses, and their cadres.

However, this time the powerful UCPN-Maoist party had to eat humble pie as it has to withdraw the shutdown strike after 12 PM following chastisement from all walks of life. Kudos to the people of Nepal for foiling the bandh.

The sad reality, however, is that we are still infected with the "cancer" of impunity and unless it is cutout, we will perennially plunge into an abyss of unending chaos and uncertainties.

However, the arrest of UCPN-Maoist cadre accused of conflict-era murder brings in a light at the end of the tunnel for Nanda Prasad Adhikari and Ganga Maya, the parents of Krishna Prasad Adhikari, who was abducted and killed in Chitwan during the Maoist insurgency. The Adikari couple have been staging a fast unto death for the last 44 days demanding legal action against the culprit.

The real question now is: Will Maoist cadre Ram Prasad Adhikari stand trial for the murder he committed during the conflict-era?

The politics of bandhs will lead us to nowhere. Nobody is happy with the bandhs. Lots of financial and social troubles are created by the bandhs. Normal lives of the people are disrupted, but still the bandhs are announced at the drop of a hat by the parties and the organizations at the cost of the inconveniences to the "supreme" people.

Why are bandhs not announced in countries like the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Russia and so on? It is not that these countries do not have political and socio-economic problems.

Therefore, the people must warn the parties and their stalwarts that the organizers of the bandhs will be voted out in the elections. Bandh organizers should be ostracized by the people in different programs and events.

There is a special role media and social media can play in doing away with the bandhs. The newspapers and magazines should not only publish the stories about the harmful impact of the bandh, they should also urge the parties and politicians in every edition to shun the bandhs in a special box advertisement. The FM radios and TV channels can also remind the parties about the same. Only in this way can we get rid of the unwanted bandhs.

Journalism and Political Uncertainty

Dr Rabin Man Shakya

With over 3,000 registered newspapers and over a dozen television broadcasters, journalism has made tremendous strides in Nepal over the years, but is the Nepalese media carrying out its responsibilities, quite honestly? What is the Nepalese media's role in helping end the lingering political uncertainty?

It is hard to find much common ground among Nepal's squabbling, competing daily and weekly newspapers. Not only do they naturally mistrust one another, but they also tend to divide along party lines. Today, like never before, Nepalese press is free, but many will agree that the media has not been able to use that freedom in a more rationale and responsible way.

Journalism should be in a position to bring about changes in the way people think as well as rally them towards just cause. Journalists should feel the pulse of the people, should cover the stories about peoples' aspirations and should lead the nation in a proper and right direction.

The overall scenario of Nepalese press is not so depressing. But, the press has not been fully instrumental in publishing the stories with a view to bringing about desired level of stability and ending the uncertainty in the country.

There are a number of factors for the lingering crisis and political uncertainty in Nepal. Political parties and leaders are responsible for this. But partial blame goes to the Nepalese press too, because a number of media outlets and newspapers are playing at the hands of the political parties, leaders, and business tycoons.

Instead of playing a watchdog role, there are a number of newspapers which carry on obsequious profiles of the "dubious and corrupt" businessmen and political leaders, thereby becoming notorious media lapdogs.

Friday, September 6, 2013

e-mail: miracle of modern technology

By Rabin Man Shakya

I was in the former Soviet Union from 1979 to 1989 for ten years doing my Masters and PhD. Away from home and the motherland, I had to rely on writing letters to my nears and dears in Nepal, since it was the only cheap and easy available medium of  communicating with the friends and relatives at that time. International calls were exorbitantly expensive and were used only in emergency cases. Plus, one had to visit the post office to make the international calls. It took at least three to five weeks to reach letters from Minsk (where I used to live) to Kathmandu and vice-versa.

As far as I know, modern e-mail communication started to gain momentum  in the year 1993. However, my first personal experience with the e-mail was in the year 1996 when my spouse Naveena Shakya who worked as a Food Research Officer at the Central Food Research Laboratory under the then HMG was sent  for a training first to Israel for two months and then to the Netherlands for three and half months in the year 1996.

Just like in the letters, you  can write whatever you want. The only difference is: the addressee gets your mail in the drop of a hat, quicker than even the telegrams. I used to go to a cyber cafe at Chhetrapati and sent her e-mails from there. I used to visit that particular cyber cafe very frequently to send e-mails. Taking a trip down memory lane, still in 1996, e-mail was something I could marvel at. It was really one of the miracles of modern technology. For the first time, I got rid of the (postal) letters. And that was in 1996.
Even though there are plethora of social media sites nowadays and people across the world are taking advantage of them for exchange of information, ideas and messages, yet the role and significance of e-mails are relevant to this day.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Finally, I also jumped on the SM bandwagon

Rabin Man Shakya

I consider myself to be a person of an old school. But I guess that does not deter me from being a part of the social media (SM) and the blog world. The Internet has made tremendous strides. Social media has become a part of peoples' lives all over the world. Therefore, no matter, whether a person has old-fashioned perceptions or has ultramodern perspectives, all the people are jumping on the social media bandwagon.

I joined Facebook in 2012. I created my own blog very recently. They say  it's always better later than never. And we cannot keep ourselves aloof from friends and well-wishers.

It is amazing thinking about technology and innovations today and how people gather and disseminate ideas, information and messages with social media and covering the events from all over the world. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter make it easy to share things with the friends. I am glad to be a part of it now.

Tech behemoths Google and Facebook are changing the culture, lifestyle and perspectives of people across the world. That is because social media has a tremendous impact on people and we can only imagine what the future has in store.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Big Milestone

By  Dr. Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor,  The Rising Nepal
Former Lecturer of Journalism, Peoples Campus, RR Campus, TU.

It was March 10, 1989 inside a big auditorium in the Faculty of Journalism at the Moscow State University that I defended my PhD  in Journalism. The theme was "Nepalese Press: Political Orientation, Problems of Growth and Challenges." Since it was in the former Soviet Union, naturally I had to write and prepare the entire thesis in Russian.

With my first blog post, I would like to say: I will always be indebted to my scientific guide Prof. Dr. Ivan Ivanovich Sachenko who provided me necessary guidelines to carry out the project with the thesis. During my four year PhD tenure (1986-1989) in the former USSR, I went to Nepal two times in 1986 and 1987 where I stayed in Kathmandu for six months to gather materials for my thesis.

During my stay in Nepal, at that time, I had met with several Nepalese media luminaries. One of them was late Gopal Das Shrestha, editor of "The Commoner", one of the pioneering English language daily newspapers of Nepal, who had provided me with a lot of valuable information and suggestions.

March 10, 1989 was a very big event in my life. It turns out that I was the first Nepali person ever to defend the first PhD in Journalism having also completed and passed Masters in Journalism from the Byelorussian State University, Minsk in 1985.

A number of distinguished academic people  and students were present at the auditorium of the MSU during my presentation. Notable among them was Prof. Dr. Yassin Zassoursky, the then Dean of the Faculty of Journalism at the MSU.

I still remember Prof Dr Sachenko saying,"Not just any Ph D, Rabin, you have earned  a Ph D degree from the Faculty of Journalism of Russia's oldest and most prestigeous university - Moscow State University."

"This is a big milestone in your life", Prof Dr Sachenko had added.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Prof. Dr. Sachenko, Prof. Dr. Zassoursky, late Mr Gopal Das Shrestha and other senior media luminaries of Nepal in the first posting of my blog. I wish them sound health, long life, prosperity and more importantly, more creativity. With everything that I have learned since then, I wish to begin writing about my views on Nepalese media and current affairs. Thank you to all who have helped me along the way.

*I value your opinion. Please provide your feedback by posting a comment below.
**Shakya is also State Education Director, NRNA-USA Oregon Chapter, Portland, USA.