Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gorkhapatra's Stop Press and News Story on Sushil Koirala's Demise

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

Nepal's former Prime Minister Sushil Koirala  passed away 12:50 AM Tuesday in Kathmandu due to complications from pneumonia and respiratory failure. He was 78. May his soul rest in peace.

Meanwhile, by publishing the banner headline news on the demise of Koirala, former PM of Nepal and president of the Nepali Congress (GOP of Nepal), the Gorkhapatra national daily has again reminded me of the word "Stop press", something even the world  famous  newspapers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal had abandoned long time ago.

So it turns out that it was only the Gorkhapatra which was able to carry out the news story on Tuesday morning, the day Koirala passed away. All other broadsheet dailies are going to publish the news story on Koirala's death on Wednesday.

It is to be noted that Koirala was a key figure in the adoption of Nepal's new constitution last September, and also was the president of Nepal's largest political party. He was one of the very few honest and uncorrupt  politicians of Nepal.

Speaking of the 'stop press',  the newspapers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal had skipped many important national and international news stories like San Bernardino shooting and Charlie Hebdo massacre to be published not in the following morning but a day after, which made the news stories already too stale.

I remember when the Communist Prime Minister Man Mohan Adhikari passed away on April 26, 1999, the Gorkhapatra and The Rising Nepal had practiced the 'stop press' too. Adhikari died on April 26, 1999 at night at about 2 AM. At that time, I used to work at the night desk at The Rising Nepal. As a matter of fact, even at that time, the Gorkhapatra and The Rising Nepal were the only two broadsheet daily newspapers to break the news about the death of the first democratically-elected Communist Prime Minister of Nepal.

Fifteen years ago, the stop press used to have more relevance than today.That is because digital journalism and social media sites have been frequently breaking the important news lately. So when we at The Rising Nepal and the Gorkhapatra, kind of,  did the stop press for the news story about passing away of Man Mohan Adhikari, it had more relevance than in today's age of social media.

So what is the 'stop press' actually? In short, it means an important news item inserted into a newspaper after the printing has been started. It may also mean the space  regularly allocated for more important news. It is true even 20 or 25 years ago, stop press did not take place very often in the newspapers.

Today more than ever, with the digital journalism and social media sites gaining momentum, use of stop press is very rare in practical journalism. So what was the relevance of the stop press in the newspapers in the past? Why did newspapers sometimes use stop press?

Senior journalists at The Rising Nepal used to tell us there were cases during the period of Panchayat system the printing press literally had to be stopped or delayed and much of the already printed copies had to be discarded causing loss to the Gorkhapatra Corporation in order to give space for royalty news or to correct error on royalty news.

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