Tuesday, November 26, 2013

UCPN-Maoists' Utopian Arrogance Shattered

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya

Dismal performance in the elections or just the show of public hatred for Maoists? Either way, the leaders as well as the activists of the UCPN-Maoists are reeling from the results of the Constituent Assembly elections held peacefully recently in Nepal.

The entire CA elections has been unfairly castigated by the UCPN-Maoists. The statements of the UCPN-M leaders about ostracizing and boycotting the CA elections after the defeat is palpable nonsense. UCPN-M has so far been taking one after another contradictory decisions after the election fiasco. On Monday, it has decided to take part in the newly elected CA. In fact, the knee-jerk reactions shown by the Maoists on the election verdict was totally inappropriate and unsubstantiated. This is a testimony that the UCPN-M is not serious about the election verdict and people's mandate.

The election verdict falls in line with the discontent and disillusionment of the people with the Maoists. There is also utopian arrogance  at Parisdanda that justifies any deeds or misdeeds of the Maoist leaders. That utopian arrogance has been shattered. UCPN-M has to learn and re-learn from the mistakes, from the misdeeds, from the defeat. One has to accept the people's verdict. Thus, UCPN-M needs to do some soul-searching of their weaknesses and shortcomings and come up with honest plans, programs and strategies.

It needs no telling that the present election and non-political government was created with the support of UCPN-M and political parties across the broader political spectrum. However, through this election, the people of Nepal loudly spoke for the idea that geography, not the ethnicity, should be used to divide the country into zones. And through the verdict the people also showed their support to continue with the parliamentary system of governance, and not the presidential system.

However, some Maoist supporters have wrongly commented in the social media sites that UCPN-M's election fiasco is a part of a grand design to destabilize Nepal,

Now that the much-awaited second CA election has been conducted peacefully and successfully with more voters turnout so far (more than 70 percent of eligible voters), the people are expecting that the new constitution has to be delivered as pledged by the leaders and parties so that the Nepalese people can be successfully extricated from the pains and worries of the lingering political transition.

The political stalwarts have to prove their mettle, earn the lost self-respect, trustworthiness and take up the vital responsibilities. This can be justified only when the political parties are able to give the people a new constitution.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

News Travels Faster on the Internet

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya

It goes without saying that news travels faster on the Internet than than on any means of mass media. I remember when I was in the former Soviet Union for ten years (1979-1989), the news used to travel very slowly, much more slower than today's generation can imagine.

The Soviet authorities had tight control over the print as well as electronic media. TV news program "Vremya" (Time) and "Segodnya V Mire" (World Today) broadcast international news, albeit with communist bias. And foreign radio stations like BBC were virtually jammed by the Soviet authorities all the time.

I remember I used to be so much excited when I found a small piece of news about Nepal in the Soviet newspapers Pravda, Izvestia, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Trud or Zarubejhom etc. But that happened once in the blue moon.

Even during those Cold War days, the Soviet newspapers Pravda and Izvestia etc were sold in newspaper kiosks in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Geneva, Brussels etc. I saw the Soviet newspapers on sale in Western capitals with my own eyes. But no Western newspapers were allowed to be sold in the former Soviet Union.
But the mouthpiece of US Communist Party "Peoples' World" and British Communist Party newspaper "Morning Star" were available at the newspaper kiosks in the big cities of the former Soviet Union. As I craved for international news, I used to buy and read "Peoples' World" and "Morning Star".

Far from home and the motherland, I always yearned for home news and other information from Nepal. But sometimes time went by so fast and I did not see hide nor hair of Nepal news for months. Today, news on Nepal and the whole world is just a click away.

Today's younger generation gets more news and more information more quickly on their i-phones, laptops, notebooks or tablets than we ever could have imagined. Well, better later than never, as the saying goes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

News Corp's Advertising Revenue Also on the Decline

By Rabin Man Shakya

Lately.  American newspaper industry is plagued by continuous decline in advertising revenue. The major chunk of newspaper industry's advertising revenue has been diverted to internet juggernauts and social media behemoths.

News Corporation, global media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's powerful and affluent media empire could not remain untouched by the internet and social media onslaught.

Throwing light on the News Corporation's revenue falls, the New York Times quoting the Reuters reported on Nov 12, 2013:"The News Corporation, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, reported a steeper-than-expected 3 percent decline in revenue in the first quarter that it was split from Fox, its more profitable sibling entertainment business."

The NYT story under the headline "News Corp. Revenue Falls Well Short of Forecasts" went on to say:" A steep drop in Australian newspapers took its toll on the company, which publishes The Wall Street Journal and The Times of London. News Corporation said net income attributable to common shareholders was $27 million for the quarter ended Sept 30, the first of its fiscal year.That compared with a loss of $92 million in the same quarter last year."

"Shares of the company fell more than 2 percent in after-hours trading on disappointment over the $2.07 billion revenue figure, which missed a Thompson Reuters forecast for $2.2 billion in revenue", added the NYT story.

Even the Wall Street Journal said in a news story on Nov 12, 2013:"The results highlight how newspaper publishers continue to grapple with a steady decline in print advertising revenue, as advertisers and readers defect to the Web."

Well, the challenges facing the newspaper industry in the advanced countries like US, Britain, Canada, Australia and so on are indeed formidable, since the fourth estate in these countries has to compete with the emerging but already ubiquitous fifth estate (social media).

It looks like the newspaper industry in the advanced countries  is fighting a losing battle against the social media.

The newspaper industry in these advanced countries was on the crest of a wave until the first decade of the 21-st century.

The newspaper industry of developing countries like Nepal, is, however, still safe from the social media and blog journalism, although they are already making inroads in the Nepalese journalism.

Well,  the equation may change in favour of the social media and blog journalism even in countries like Nepal on the third decade of this century, if laptops, tablets and i-phones become cheap and ubiquitous.

Nepali Journalism, Nepal Pukar and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

Who was the first chairman of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists ? Who was the first and last Nepali journalist to take an interview with  late Nikita Khrushchev, the then general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) ?

The answers of both the questions are late Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, the former prime minister of Nepal and one of the senior leaders of Nepali Congress, popularly known as Kisunji among the rank and file of the Nepali Congress.

Actually, speaking of the history of Nepalese journalism, absence of conducive political conditions and fear of omnipotent Ranas had prompted some of the progressive-minded Nepalese intellectuals to start the journalistic activities not from within the territory of Nepal, but from abroad.

Although publications like Gorkhapatra, Sudha Sagar, Sharada, Gharelu Ilam Patrika, Udyog etc were published in Nepal during the Rana period, political materials were not allowed to be published in those publications.

Obviously, political reporting was prohibited in Nepal until the Rana regime was toppled down in 1951. Political journalism kicked off in Nepal after the political change in 1951. The political parties were well aware about the usefulness and influence of the print media. Therefore, a number of political parties started launching the newspapers.

Newspapers like Nepal Pukar and Nava Nepal were being published by the Nepali Congress while Nepal Communist Party started publishing the newspaper Nava Yug, just to mention few of them.

The importance that the Nepali Congress gave to the print media can easily be extrapolated by the fact that senior party leader Krishna Prasad Bhattarai was made the editor of the newspaper "Nepal Pukar"

 By the same token, Bhattarai was the first president and founder of the Fedaration of Nepalese Journalists, the umbrella organization of the Nepalese journalists, which was then called the Nepal Journalists Association.

Late Bhattarai was one of the members of the Nepalese journalists delegation that visited the former Soviet Union in 1957. It was during this visit that late Bhattarai took an interview with late Nikita Khrushchev, the former powerful general secretary of the then CPSU, becoming one of the first few foreign journalists to interview the top Communist leader of that time.

* 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.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jung Bahadur Rana and Giddhe Chhapakhana

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

There is no doubt that the newspapers and the printing press have some kind of 'symbiotic' inter-relations. Although digital journalism is making inroads in newspaper industry, print journalism is here to stay.

Speaking of the printing press and history of Nepalese journalism, the preliminary accounts  of Nepal's journalistic chronicles demonstrate the fact that the first Rana prime minister Jung Bahadur Rana upon return from his Britain visit had brought with him a hand printing press in 1851.

It is to be noted that the Ranas came to power after Jung Bahadur Rana successfully orchestrated a coup d' etat in 1846. The autocratic rule of Rana oligarchy lasted for more than a century (1846-1951).During the period of century-old Rana rule, Nepal was Britain's sycophantic ally and was a big supplier of Nepalese manpower for the British colonial army.

True, no newspapers and magazines were published in Nepal during Jung Bahadur Rana's regime. Nepal's first weekly newspaper "Gorkhapatra" had to wait for liberal Rana prime minister Dev Shumshere Rana to be published in 1901. But Jung Bahadur Rana had laid the foundation for printing activities, even though it was limited to printing of government notices and orders.

Obviously, that was the era of colonialism. Almost all the countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America were colonized by either Britain, France, Spain or Portugal. More liberal political and educational activities were allowed in the colonized countries than in 'uncolonized' Nepal and more importantly the colonized countries were not politically isolated like Nepal.

What made the Ranas not to permit the people to participate in political and social activities was the specter that it would politically awaken the people. Hence, the Nepalese were not only deprived of civil liberty and right to form organizations, but all those means of mass communications that might make them politically aware of their rights were also not allowed.

Prior to the usurpation of power by the Ranas, Nepal had conflicts with British India. If Anglo-Nepalese war of 1814-16 in the words of Karl Marx "opened the door for dealings of England with Nepal, the political coup d' etat orchestrated by Jung Bahadur Rana whom Marx called "the loyal dog of the British" meant the coming in power of the feudal family being obedient instrument and socio-political support for British colonizers in implementing expansionist plans in this region.

So what could have prompted Jung Bahadur Rana to bring the printing press to Nepal ? To promote printing activities in Nepal ? Nope. Judging by the parochial  and feudal attitudes of the Rana hardliners, it was unlikely that Jung Bahadur wanted to promote printing activities in Nepal. There can be no doubt whatsoever about it. Maybe, it was a part of diverse luxuries of the Rana rulers and vain pomposity. Since other means of mass communication like radios, photo cameras, libraries and books were also confined to the limits of Rana families and their loyal sycophants as part of luxuries, this assumption looks like valid.

Hence, it was surprising to note that Jung Bahadur had brought  a hand printing press from England visit. This hand printing machine was called "Giddhe Chhapakhana" (Vulture Press) named after the symbol it bore.

*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.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

CBS in International Headlines for Erroneous Report

By Rabin Man Shakya

Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), one of the prominent US television networks, is in international headlines for the erroneous report on the attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.

According to an AP news report, CBS News admitted Friday it was wrong to trust a "60 Minutes" source who claimed to be at 2012 attack on the US mission on Benghazi.

"60 Minutes" is one of the most popular TV news documentary program in US. "60 Minutes" has been able to bag 42 Emmys, six George Foster Peabody Awards, two George Polk Memorial Awards, 10 Alfred I. dupont-Columbia University Awards, and one Christopher Award.

However, speaking of Benghazi report, the source mentioned in the CBS story Dylan Davies, a former security contractor, was giving totally conflicting, misleading and concocted details leading up to Benghazi catastrophe.

A story under the headline "CBS to Correct Erroneous Report on Benghazi" was published in the New York Times on Nov 9, 2013. The story says:"As it prepared to broadcast a rare on-air correction Sunday for a now-discredited '60 Minutes' report, CBS News acknowledged on Friday that it had suffered a damaging blow to its credibility. Its top executive called the segment 'as big a mistake as there has been' in the 45-year-old history of the celebrated news program."

According to the NYT story, "The executive, Jeff Fager, conceded that CBS appeared to have been duped by the primary source for the report, a security official who told a national television audience a harrowing tale of the attack last year at the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya."

The NYT news story went on to say:"On Thursday night it was disclosed that the official, Dylan Davies, had provided a completely different account in interviews with FBI, in which he said he never made it to the mission that night."

Now it is obvious that, unfortunately, CBS and its "60 Minutes" have become a victim of a wrong and misleading "source".

Yes, the Oct 27 story on "60 Minutes" was focused on Benghazi catastrophe, and the wrong and misleading "source" was interviewed with much more fanfare by its correspondent, Lara Logan. At that time, the "60 Minutes" had created a big sensation in the American media. But that sensation cost CBS dear and now it had to issue a public mea culpa for the journalistic blunder.

The bottom line of the CBS fiasco is: You have to double check the credibility and authenticity of the primary "source" before going to air or print.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Two French Reporters: Latest Victims of Islamofascists

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya

Two French reporters Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlone, journalists with Radio France Internationale were gunned down while carrying out a reporting assignment on Saturday in Mali. The assassination of the journalists took place in troubled northern city of Kidal. The two French journalists were the latest victims of the Islamic terrorists.

Killings of journalists by Islamofascists pose a serious threat in conflict-ridden countries like Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and many other Arab and Muslim countries. It is to be noted that more than 600 journalists have been killed across the world within the period of  the last decade.

Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb may not be happy with  the modus operandi of the international journalists. Yes, the French journalists suffered fatal assault because of what they broadcast or were going to. Carrying out fatal and heinous assault on the media people by the Islamofascists is a huge issue and it should be seriously taken care not only by the concerned governments but also by the international community.

More often than not, the motive of the killing of journalists is to instill fear on the reporters not to do reporting about the relevant issues. Likewise, the other motive for killings could be for the in-depth, investigative stories already published or broadcast by the reporters about the corrupt, dishonest people as well as the terrorists and criminals.

Meanwhile, Associated Press reported from Mali on Nov 5, "French troops who found the bodies of two slain French radio journalists in northern Mali followed footprints in the sand near the corpses to their abductors, part of a search that eventually led to five arrests Monday, a Mali military official said."

There is no doubt the killing of two French journalists underscored Mali's reputation as one of the most dangerous  countries for the international journalists. Journalists, media organizations and facebookers across the world have condemned the killings as a cruel blow to press freedom and demanded stern action against the perpetrators. This is outrageous and unacceptable, they spoke out against the killings of the French journalists in the social media sites.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Journalists And Carte Blanche

By Rabin Man Shakya

"The tabloid The News of the World, now defunct, hacked into Prince Harry's cell phone in 2005 to write an article about how he had sought help from his private secretary, a former member of the military, to prepare a term paper for officers' school at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the jury in Britain's phone hacking trial heard on Friday." This is an intro of a news story of the New York Times under the headline "Tabloid Hacked Prince's Phone, Jury Is Told" published on Nov 2, 2013.

According to another Associated Press story, former News of the World editors Rebeccah Brooks and Andy Coulson, both 45; Brook's husband Charles, and five former staff of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers are on trial in the first major criminal case spawned by the revelation in 2011 that employees of the tabloid eavesdropped on the voice mails of celebrities, politicians, top athletes and even crime victims.

Likewise, under the headline "China Newspaper Recants on Arrest", a Wall Street Journal news story dated Oct 28, 2013 said that a Chinese newspaper that had called for authorities to release one of its reporters issued a front-page apology after state TV showed him confessing to bribery charges.

The WSJ news story went on to say:"The reporter, Chen Yongzhen of the New Express newspaper, said he had accepted bribes to publish fabricated stories about one of China's largest construction-equipment makers."

These journalistic misconducts and misdeeds are just the tip of the ice berg. They are there in the Communist China, they are there are there in democratic Britain.  Even BBC, the omnipresent and ubiquitous broadcasting juggernaut, is not free from the stigma and misconduct of its journalists.

Revelations of this kind of news are on the rise although the majority of the journalists across the world are working hard to keep the integrity of the profession.

These kind of  'news' have raised questions about the deviation and degeneration of journalists which could be detrimental to the very name of the profession, referred to as the proud representatives of the Fourth Estate. Just because someone is a journalist does not mean that he or she has impunity. In this context, the old saying "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones" rings absolutely true.

Journalists should always remember the code of conduct written for them. Obviously, the name "journalist" does not give anybody carte blanche to write or to do whatever one likes to.

Yes, to be an honest and true journalist is a  matter of great respect and admiration. Journalists should believe in truthful write-ups. They should be unbiased and impartial in their stories. They can not get away with anything they do or write.