Sunday, October 27, 2013

Why Is Nepalese Media Deeply Polarized ?

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya
Former Lecturer of Journalism, Peoples Campus and RR Campus, TU.

Even though there are zealots at either end of the political spectrum in the United States, majority of the people here consider something other than politics their top priority.And polarization of journalism is not a big issue here, not as alarming as in South Asian countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Nepalese media is deeply polarized because of over-politicization, lack of professionalism, parochial perspectives and financial constraints.

Some Nepalese newspapers are cheerleaders of the political parties and politicians to grind their 'selfish' ax. Just as educational sector, sports, health, trade unions, women's movement, human rights organizations etc, Nepalese press was and is still heavily plagued by 'over-politicization'.

In fact, journalism in Nepal is characterized by loyalty to different political stalwarts  and, therefore, the challenges facing the Nepalese press, in this respect, is indeed formidable.

Do the political stalwarts in Nepal have some kind of 'chutzpah' to 'disown' the newspapers to pave the way for de-polarization? The political parties can figure it out and can even make a political breakthrough for de-polarization of media if they all put their cards on the table. But for right now, it will be futile to expect anything from our politicos 'cause they have done nothing for the good of the people, so far.

With the date for election of the Constituent Assembly slated for November 19, the nation is witnessing even more polarization of the press along the political line.Media and social media will be utilized for election purpose by political parties to the full extent.

While some broadsheet Nepalese dailies are doing brisk business, a number of weekly newspapers are facing financial problems. While the need for help to the Nepalese weekly newspaper journalism is palpable, but we must also address the broader professional problems plaguing our journalism: incompetence, irresponsibility, over-sensationalization, lack of credibility etc.

Actually, the branding of the media personnel as the sycophants of the political parties is not a good omen for the development of a truly free press in Nepal. Is party affiliation doing any good to the Nepalese media? Nope. Then why some newspapers are so subservient to the political parties? Why do some journalists publish sycophantic stories and write-ups to curry favor from the political stalwarts and business tycoons? Why are the newspapers not sincere to the people? These newspapers are earning notoriety by becoming the media lapdogs.

Therefore, journalists should be able to rise above their political perspectives, should be able to discard the political parochialism.

However, Nepalese journalists associated with the big daily newspapers think they are more professional, more impartial and more free. They forget one thing (perhaps they know) that all journalists are forced to toe a certain line. Can they use their pen against the respective media tycoons if in case they are found committing some irregularities? Nope.

The umbrella organization of the Nepalese journalists - Federation of Nepalese  Journalists -  which is supposed to play a constructive and epitomizing role in de-polarization of journalism is itself entangled into the political tug-of- war.

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