Sunday, May 25, 2014

Journalism and Corruption

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

Commenting on my blog headlined "Problem of Corruption and Role of Media", Rajendra Adhikari, one of  the senior-most engineers of Nepal and a septuagenarian intellectual, currently based  in Boston, USA asked  me a query:"When media itself is corrupt, what is the way out?"

Journalists always expose the wrongs of our society, political and financial shenanigans among the country's elite. Journalists try to squeeze the truth out of what is going on in our community as well as governmental and non-governmental activities. That is why it is just natural for them to have supporters as well as detractors. But the question raises what if the journalists  themselves are dishonest and corrupt?.

Remember the questionable reporting practices by News Corp's UK weekly tabloid "The News of the World" which was later closed. Remember the sexual scandals of BBC's Jimmy Saville and others. Remember BBC's Nepali language correspondent Surendra Phuyal's sordid sex activities?

Well, there are good things as well as bad, good people and bad ones. In journalism sector too, not all media people are trustworthy. There are some journalists who misuse the name of the profession. Media's power to bully people who have broken no law is dangerous to all of us. Media outlets and journalists do not have the right to play cops or to become judges. That is why there is no dearth of cases when Yellow Press faced a journalistic reckoning.

Power of the Press is beyond any dispute. Remember, President Nixon had to step down as a result of investigative reporting carried out by The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on the Watergate scandal. Therefore, what reporters and journalists do and write has an immediate as well as long-term impact on the socio-economic and political process of a nation. But journalists and reporters who publish and broadcast news about others sometimes become cynosure of national and international headlines for allegations of financial and political skulduggery and other hanky-panky deals.

But comparing to other professionals like doctors, engineers, teachers and lawyers etc, the lives of journalists are more vulnerable. They are easily assassinated and assaulted for what they say and write. In the last ten years, more than 600 journalists have been assassinated across the world, just for what they wrote.

Journalists do many good things. There were and still are lots of examples where the victims of accidents or disputes have been rescued with the help of journalists and media outlets, where reporters took up the gauntlets against injustice, corruption and different kinds of malpractices in the society. But 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 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 news stories. They can not get away with anything they do, write or say. The ultimate winner in newspaper business will be whoever can  win the hearts of the readers, convince the newspaper readers that their newspaper is honest, unbiased, credible, true, impartial and balanced.

The big Nepalese broadsheet daily newspapers claim to represent the interest of the common Nepali people, but these interests turn out to be identical to those of the tycoons who own the newspapers. The danger of the media tycoons poking nose into journalistic activities could be another  source of hot scoop for the investigative journalismn

In case of Nepal's media, there is still a journalistic stigma attached to the weekly newspaper journalism as many of them are brazenly pro-corrupt leaders and tycoons thereby playing a lapdog role.   It is hard to find much common ground among Nepal's polarized journalism especially the weekly newspapers. Not only do they naturally mistrust one another, but they also tend to divide along party lines so much so that "Deshantar" weekly is brazenly pro-NC, "Dristi" weekly is conspicuously pro-UML and "Janadesh" weekly is die-hard pro-UCPN-Maoists. 


  1. Pure ghee is very difficult to buy in Nepal;so also are Nepalese objective newspapers/journals.

  2. Exactly. I absolutely agree with your opinion. Thanks for reading my blogs, Rajendra dai.