Monday, May 18, 2015

Earthquake Coverage and Journalism

Dr. Rabin Man Shakya
State Education Director, NRN NCC USA, Oregon chapter,
Former Associate Editor,  The Rising Nepal.

To be a real, truthful and honest journalist has always been a challenging job. The apocalyptic disaster  of April 25 has proved to be a big humanitarian crisis for Nepal. It posed a major challenge for the government and the mainstream political parties of Nepal.

As Nepal faced a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions, the government's move of aid delivery and disaster management are going on at a snail's pace. The Nepalese people are frustrated with their government not without reason.

The challenges facing the journalists covering the post-earthquake issues are formidable. A basic tenet of journalism is to report all sides of a story - no matter how ugly or difficult. If there are heroes doing great job to the quake-affected people, they should be prominently highlighted by the journalists in the media.

Journalists have challenging job  to make sure the financial and other assistance pouring from friendly countries are moving in the right direction, make sure help is reaching the really hard-hit people of the Kathmandu valley as well as remote districts.

Already, there are news stories in the mainstream media and in the digital journalism about the protests and demonstration of Nepalese people against the wrong approach and slow pace of aid delivery.

Obviously, going by the views of the people from the social media sites, much of the rising disdain for the government has to do with the perception among media, social media and the public of the callous and inept handling of the disaster management.

 No wonder, the peoples' frustration with the Nepal government over the slow distribution mechanism   of financial help to the affected people is palpable from the pages of the social media. As the custodian of democracy and rule of law, journalists should always be vigilant enough to point out irregularities in distribution of aid to the needy and affected people.

The government and its ministers have been castigated for moving too slowly to help people affected by the quake.The main political parties have lost the confidence of the people and their credibility.

Journalists should be able to play a role of a bridge between the government and the people in this hour of big calamity There is no doubt that the earthquake on April 25 was the country's worst catastrophe.The government and the mainstream political parties should  understand the need to avert social and economic catastrophe that may arise in the event the aid distribution, is not carried out in an effective and honest way, and effective and honest strategies are not implemented.

Believe me, a lot of important journalism related to the earthquake and other disasters may begin with the  news stories about the ordeal of the affected people. If some affected people get the much-needed help because of a pen of a journalist, the journalist can be called himself a hero. That is to say, journalists' pen should be used in such a way as to boost the morale and confidence of the quake-hit people.

Horrific earthquake and after-shocks certainly have an impact on perceptions and perspectives of the people. The media cover them intensively, which is only right. But sometimes news stories business  is not blameless. The news stories about the quake issues should be accurate and balanced and should not play with the sensitivities and vulnerabilites of the affected people.

Media coverage of post-earthquake situation should be honest, unbiased and balanced. Well, hard news about the earthquakes is over. News and news analysis  on the post-earthquake issues are drawing extensive coverage not only in the national media of Nepal but  in the international media as well.

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