23 March 2006

Question of Objective Journalism in Nepali Media by Harsha Man Maharjan

On 18 March Minister of State for Information and Communications Shrish Shumsher Rana urged journalists to disseminate objective news. He was speaking at a program organized by Federation of Nationalist Journalists (FENAJ), Sunsari in Dharan. He even requested journalists to give priority to the nation, nationality and the institution of crown.

I think his two statements don’t match with each other. Being objective is to report without being influence by personal feelings or opinion. But they become biased by
giving priority to the nation, nationality and the institution of crown.

I have no faith in objective journalism. No journalist can be totally objective in journalism. I was taught in early days of my PCL in Ratna Rajya Campus that journalist should do objective journalism. In those days I was never taught about the constraints of media. Neither did I know about the concept of gate-keeping. Today I know the constraints of media: Owner’s interest, advertiser’s interest and others (any body interested in the issue pls search for Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s article on Propaganda Model and other’s articles on the same issue). Today I don’t believe that media is totally free and fair.

Quite opposite to Rana, I think objective journalism is impossible. Before news come to media, they go through a process. First journalists choose the topic and think over what to and what not to write. From large information they choose little information. Even editors cuts and add information in the news according to news value and time or space available to media. Audiences get news after they passes from a long road of selections. So they contain biases and interest of journalists, editors. Sometimes advertisers even media owners interfere in the production of news.

In Nepal, the minister Rana thinks that objectivity comes after journalists become loyal to monarchy. For him, what government-owned media (actually they are not) like Gorkhaptra, The Rising Nepal, Radio Nepal, Nepal Television does is objective journalism. Actually these media were never loyal to their audiences. They always gave priority to few people who captured state power. And they are doing same after February 1 2005, Royal Coup. They are in reality only doing Gorkhaptrakarita, not Patrakarita.

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