We were discussing the shallow ground over which Nepali citizen media stands.The issues like lax free press protection,uneven standards, sustained crisis of leadership and ethics within journalism and the larger society, and technical barriers stand on the way of bloggers and citizen media.
Leadership and ethics crisis, and the hostile environment against the press pose the biggest threat.
Committee to Protect Journalists said earlier this year that leadership vacuum is seriously threatening Nepal free press.
Threats, violence against reporters happen with distressing regularity in Nepal. Instead of confronting opposing views with civil discussions, people seem more inclined to get violet and attack the messenger instead.
Lax laws and paralyzed law enforcement has further amplified hostilities against the press.
Citizen reporter and bloggers, so far have not faced adversity comparable to mainstream journalists, but there have been couple of incidents of intimidation.
Chaudhary Group, business power house whose CEO is also a member of the Constituent Assembly, threatened Nepali blog Mysansar (with the help of Press Council); blogger Shreedeep Rayamajhi was attacked by unknown goons.
These attacks, though handful, are disturbing as they point towards the flawed fundamentals,which if not corrected will never allow dissent.
In the Mysansar case, a powerful business entity used it’s influence to intimidate a blogger. This clear corruption and unethical behavior did not get as much media play as it deserved. Online community of Nepali bloggers was outraged but that anger did not or could not translate into a national debate. Also, the role played by Chaudhary Group CEO Binod Chaudhary was not examined properly. To make matters worse, Mr Chaudhary is a Constituent Assembly member. A person who has no respect for free expression is entrusted with writing the Constitution!
Blogger Rayamajhi’s case also failed to get attention, an example of how violence against journalists/writers/media is taken as “o anther one”. Frequency and regularity of attacks have reduced the society’s interest in these crimes. When political parties and professional organizations get involved, then only the incidents get attention. Even then the investigation and legal process is criminally slow and toothless.
As we discuss the bleak media landscape,crisis of ethics cannot be ignored. In some ways it adds to the environment of hostility against journalists and bloggers.
Nepali media, including the citizen media, is often too soft on ethics issues.
Rest coming up tomorrow..