05 February 2007

Madheshi community and Nepali Media

By Harsha Man Maharjan

Madhesh is in fire. A wildfire.
Many think it is an inevitable incident. They think the state has always neglected Madheshis grievances. Others think it a design to bifurcate Nepal into principalities. I too believe Madheshis were living with grievances and they have rights to vent their grievances.
My interest in this issue, made me read Bhaskar Gautam’s unpublished article, Sahabhagita abam Pratinidhimulak Sahabhagita and Madhesh (Participation, Representational participation and Madhesh). In this article he has written on the issues of citizenship, language issue and so-called Nepali nationality. From it I learn a lot about the issue.
History shows 30 years of Panchayat system never left its doctrine of one language and one dress. This way it never heeded people with other cultures. There was no hope for Madheshis in these years. Even 12 years of Democratic exercise did nothing to balm their wounds.
Madhesh always remained as an internal colony of Nepal. 23 Lakhs of them have no nationality, if in Nepal only citizenship proves somebody’s nationality.
Today issues of Tarai rule the roost in Nepali media. For few days Nepal FM is airing morning talk show, Samaya Sandabha on this issue. This FM has even announced special programs on the issue. Op-ed pages of newspapers are carrying articles on the issue. Even Nepali bloggers are thinking over ways to get the first hand experience of Tarai area.
But news of protestors targeting journalists are coming from Madhesh. International Federation of Journalists and Federation of Nepalese Journalists are showing concern over these incidents.
In one Samaya Sandarbha aired this week, Nagendra Pasman alis Jawala Singh, main leader of Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (Jawala Singh) even blamed Nepali media system for not publishing news of his organization. He told what editors at kathmandu choose as news, contains less information of their activities sent by district reporters. Thus readers get less information of their activities.
Singh is not only one to think so. Even on 22 July 2006 Nepalnews.com has posted a news about an incident. Nepali Madheshi Students’ Front, affiliated to Madheshi People’s Right Forum, burnt copies of The Kathmandu Post, Kantipur Daily, weekly Saptahik and other newspapers and magazines in Janakpur. Front’s chairman Keshav Jha, blamed these papers for giving little space to the issues concerning Madhesis and warned to repeat such action in the future.
Commenting on the incident, president of FNJ, Bishnu Nisthuri, told that newspapers couldn’t be discriminatory in disseminating news. "Any thing that has news value or any good event intended for social development is always covered by the newspapers," he added.
Source: http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article-southasia.asp?parentid=49732

Yes Nishthuri is right it is all about news value and editing.
If we see it straight, it is the principle of editing. Singh being a former vice-president of Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Sirha branch must know that news in newspapers, tv, radio, website only appear after different level of omission. There will not be place, time to include all news send by reporters.
But news value is subjective. Biases of journalists might creep in news selection and presentation. It is never simple as it appears.
people even blame poor representation of journalists of Madhese community for not giving spaces to the issues of Madhes in Nepali media.
In a paper titiled, Youth, Media and Peace that K.B. Bhattachan (Krishna Bahadur Bhattachan ?) presented in a seminar organized by Telegraph in 2005, he writes
There are hard evidences that media professionals are often males, mostly from Bahun-Chhetri castes and some from the Newars. Representation of indigenous nationalities, Dalits and Madhesis is nominal. Representation of Madhesi indigenous nationalities and Madhesi Dalits is almost negligible. Lack of representation of indigenous nationalities, Dalits and Madhesis is due to the ideology, policy and practices of Bahunbad ("Brahmanism"), exclusionary system, racial discrimination, and lack of affirmative action. C. K. Lal is of the view that "equal opportunity," specialization/merit and biased recruitment criteria are the main means used by the Bahun-Chhetris to continue their domination in both government and private media.
Source: http://www.nepalnews.com.np/contents/englishweekly/telegraph/2005/jan/jan26/views.htm
Did Nepali media give this much interest in the concerns of Madhese community before? Many people think Kathmandu-centric media looked at the issue of Mahdese’s welfare through the eyes of kathmanduists.
We must think over this. Yet there is still a question. Will representation of Madhese journalists improve the presentation of Madhese issues in Nepali media? Do you have anything to say ?

No comments: