Saturday, October 10, 2015

Social Media and Socio-political Crisis in Nepal

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Lecturer of Journalism, People's Campus, RR Campus.

As far back as 1992, when I first stepped into the newsroom of The Rising Nepal and started working as the sub-editor, the scenario of print journalism was quite optimistic. The Rising Nepal was the only broadsheet English language daily newspaper of Nepal. Today Nepal can boast of, at least, four daily English broadsheet newspapers.

Today journalistic professionalism is more palpable in the Nepalese newspaper industry. But the journalists working for the newspapers and TV channels are not optimistic  about their jobs and the future.

Today more than ever, people across the world are more and more attracted to the digital and social media than the newspapers. Well, newspapers in the US and elsewhere  in the world are gasping for air, but still they are pretty much alive.

Digital journalism and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become ubiquitous source of information and news. Digital journalism and social media  are breaking the news. The newspapers and even TV channels are lagging behind the digital and social media. Whenever  something happens, people immediately turn to the social media. Social media has become the integral part of the modern human civilization.

One of the reasons the digital and social media sites are becoming ubiquitous source of news and information is that they are not only breaking the news, they are constantly updating the news as well. And if there are some mistakes and errors, they can correct them instantly. If there are errors and mistakes in the stories of a newspaper, they will be corrected only in the next edition of the newspaper. The newspapers in the US especially The New York Times have corrections sections. But the newspapers in countries like India and Nepal do not bother much about the mistakes in the news stories.

Therefore, there were many cases when the Nepalese newspapers made mistakes, particularly on high profile news stories, the Nepalese readers and viewers had to take them to Facebook and Twitter to point them out.

Right now, we are not seeing a ton of original materials on social media because much of the news and views on these sites originate from mainstream media. But we are seeing much more discussions and debates about the burning issues.

It is in the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter where more and more Nepalese people are debating about the burning issues of Nepal's new constitution and about the socio-economic and political crisis in Nepal following India's blockade game.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are exploding with comments, visuals and photos about the economic and political crisis in Nepal. We are seeing that social media platforms give the ethnic communities a chance to make their voices heard. The ongoing protests of the ethnic communities against the government is fueled by deep frustrations with the new constitution that it discriminates against the ethnic groups.

The frustrations that have remained suppressed within these communities since long had to explode and they have just burst out finally. There is no doubt the contents of the social media give a polarized view of the Nepalese political development. Wide spread disputes about the discrimination of ethnic communities have marred the post-constitution period and thrown the country into the turmoil.

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