विज्ञान रिपोर्टरहरुलाई केहि सुझाव


नेपालका पत्रिकामा काम गर्ने, विज्ञान सम्बन्धि लेख र समाचार लेख्ने पत्रकार साथीहरुलाई मित्रवत सुझाव स्वरुप यो लेख्दैछु। यस किसिमको नमागिएको सुझाव मैले पहिले पनि दिने गरेको छु, टुइट र यहि ब्लग मार्फत। मोन्सान्टोको सन्दर्भमा होस् वा “बाबुरामले धेरै कर उठाएकोले सबैभन्दा राम्रो अर्थमन्त्री” भनेको सन्दर्भमा होस्। एउटा उदाहरण यहाँ छ

विज्ञान मात्रै हैन, अर्थतन्त्र वा अन्य प्रविधि र विषयगत ज्ञान चाहिने फाँटका धेरै रिपोर्टहरुमा समस्या देखिराख्छु। म पनि यि विषयको विज्ञ हैन, तर केहि उपयोगी सुझाव तैपनि दिनसक्छु भन्ने लागेर यो लेख्दैछु। नेपाली पत्रकारीतामा विज्ञानको बारे सबैभन्दा बढि दख्खल र चासो राख्ने व्यक्ति शायद कुन्द दिक्षित हुनुहुन्छ। वहाँसँग यस बारे थप सुझावको अपेक्षा गरिन्छ। कुन्द दिक्षित यस विषयमा नेपाल मात्रै होइन, दक्षिण एसियाकै अग्रणी र विश्वकै कम पत्रकारहरुमध्ये पर्नुहुन्छ। नेपाली पत्रकार र सम्पादकहरुलाई उडाउनेहरुले अरुको दक्षता र विज्ञताको सम्मान गर्नु पनि जरुरी छ।

  • आविष्कार, खोज, अन्वेषण, प्रयोग आदि फरक फरक कुराहरु हुन्। कसैले हेलिकप्टर बनायो भने त्यो अाविष्कार हुँदैन। हेलिकप्टरलाई चाहिने प्रविधि निकै पहिले विकास भैसकेको छ। फेरी हेलिकप्टर बनाउनु “उत्पादन” गर्नु हो, जुन बढि औद्योगीक काम हो, वैज्ञानिक हैन। त्यसो गर्ने मानिसहरुको पक्कै सम्मान गर्नुस्, तर उचित रुपमा। त्यस किसिमको उत्पादन गर्दा उनिहरुले केहि सानो नयाँ कुरा सिकेका हुनसक्छन्, कुनै घरेलु प्रविधी प्रयोग गरेका हुनसक्छन्, इन्धन जोगाउने तरीका अपनाएका हुनसक्छन्, वा पहिले प्रयोग नभएका सामग्री प्रयोग गरेका हुनसक्छन्। बुझ्नुहोस्, र तीबारे लेख्नुहोस्। केहि नभएपनि कुनै प्रविधीको नक्कल गर्दा पनि धेरै कुरा सिकिएको हुन्छ, त्यसको निम्ति चाहिने ज्ञान आर्जन गरिएको हुन्छ ,त्यसलाई सोहि रुपमा लेख्नुहोस्, तर हेलिकप्टर पहिलोपटक बनेजस्तो समाचार नबनाउनुहोस्।
  • आइन्स्टाइनको फर्मूला गलत सावित भएको लेख्दा होसियार हुनुहोस्। यस किसिमका समाचार धेरै पढ्न पाइन्छ। आइन्स्टाइनका काम गलत सावित हुनैनसक्ने पक्कै होइनन्। तर कसैले भन्दैमा त्यो गलत हुने हैन। कोहि प्रोफेसरलाई सोध्नुहोस्, वा अरु कुनै विज्ञलाई सोध्नुहोस्। कहिलेकाहिँ सावित हुनुभन्दा पहिले प्रश्न मात्रै सोधिन्छ। प्रश्नबारे खोज गरेपछि मात्र त्यो सहि वा गलत भन्ने थाहा हुन्छ। दावी गरिरहेको मानिसको प्रश्न राम्रो हुनसक्छ, तर त्यसको अर्थ उसले आइन्स्टाइनलाई गलत प्रमाणित गरिसक्यो भन्न मिल्दैन। धेरै मेहेनतपछि बाकिँ वैज्ञानिक समुदायले स्वीकार गरेपछि मात्रै त्यस्तो दावी गर्न मिल्छ।
  • अनुसन्धान एक्लै गरिँदैन। “नेपालीले क्यान्सरको औषधी पत्ता लगाए” लेख्न पक्कै मजा आउँछ। भारतीय मिडियाको यस्तै समाचारको प्रभावले हामीलाई पनि काउकुती लगाउँदो हो। तर प्राय विज्ञान एक्लै हुँदैन भन्छन्। नेपाली सामेल टोलीमा कतिजना थिए। उसको भुमिका के थियो। यस्ता प्रश्न सोध्नुहोस्। तपाईँलाई समाचार दिने व्यक्तिले बढाईँचढाईँ गरेको हुनसक्छ। सिधै वैज्ञानिकलाई लेखेर “तपाईँले यो क्यान्सरको औषधी पत्ता लगाउने कामको फलानो फलानो कामको नेतृत्व गर्नुभएको हो?” भनेर सोध्नुहोस्। प्राय वैज्ञानिकले आफुले नगरेको काम वा त्यसरी दावी गर्न नसकिने कामलाई हो भनेर भन्दैन रे। उसले “हैन, त्यसो भन्न अलि मिल्दैन, यसो भन्नुस्” भनेर जवाफ देला। समाचारको श्रोतको मात्रै भर नपरेर माथि भनेजस्तै कोहि विज्ञलाई पनि सोध्नुहोस्। उनको पनि राय समाचारमा राख्नुहोस्।
  • धेरै नेपाली वैज्ञानिकहरु छन्। आजकल नेपाली वैज्ञानिकको पहिलेजस्तो कमी छैन। विश्वभरका नामी अनुसन्धान शालाहरुमा नेपालीहरुले विश्वकै कठीन वैज्ञानिक प्रश्नहरुको हल खोजिरहेका छन्। विद्यावारीधि गर्ने नेपालीको पनि कमी छैन। त्यसकारण कसैले विद्यावारीधि गरेको विषयलाई नै दुनिँया बदल्ने आविष्कार जस्तो गरी समाचार लेख्नु अघि विचार पुर्याउनुहोस्। कसैको विद्यार्थी कालको काम त्यति चमत्कारिक हुने संभावना निकै कम हुन्छ। केहि वर्षमा नेपाली मूलका एकजना अर्थशास्त्रीले नोबेल पुरस्कार नै पाउने संभावना रहेको छ। त्यसकारण सबै वैज्ञानिक कामहरुलाई नोबेल पुरस्कार नै जितेजस्तो गरी प्रस्तुत गर्नुअघि सोच्नुहोस्। अरुसँग बुझ्नुहोस्। अनि बल्ल लेख्नुहोस।
  • अरु धेरै स-साना तथ्याङ्क, शब्द-चयन आदिमा ख्याल गर्नुपर्ने कुरा होलान्, तर माथि भनेजस्तै म विषय विज्ञ नभएकोले अरुले त्यस्ता कुरा कमेण्टमा लेख्लान् भन्ने आशा गरौँ। तर माथिका केहि कुरा ख्याल गरे धेरै गल्तिहरु आफैँ कम हुनेछन् भन्ने लाग्छ। तपाईँको कामको निम्ति धन्यवाद र शुभकामना।

Adhocism and the culture of press-release journalism – I


Let me start with some examples.

  1. Kantipur as a tool of Maoist propaganda: “Prachanda shortlisted in the 100 eminent personalities of the world chosen by China”

    Kantipur: Prachanda among the 100 towering personalities chosen by China

    Kantipur functioning as a tool of Maoist propaganda: "Prachanda among the 100 towering personalities chosen by China"

    On 16th march 2010, the official mouthpiece publication of Nepal’s Maoist party wrote (Krishna Sen Online): “UCPN-Maoist Chairman Com. Prachanda has been selected among the 100 towering personalities from the different sectors of the world to take part in the Shanghai Expo that is going to be held after two months in Shanghai, China. During the period, continuing for 6 months, Prachanda will take part in a special interaction programme there. In the Expo, science and technology, industrial production and economic development will be exhibited.”

    In reality, the organizers of the World Expo Shanghai had approached many celebrities for it’s campaign named “100 celebrities talking about the World Expo Shanghai.” The official notice of the organizers from 2009 says that they had received manuscripts from 90 such celebrities and expected the number to exceed 100. No other credible news source talked of it as China’s recognition of the personalities as “the 100 most eminent in in the world.” It was just a publicity campaign and an attempt by the fest organizers to gather wider recognition..

    It was a time when Maoist Chairman Prachanda was trying desperate measures to get back to power. To increase his bargaining power with others (including India), he was trying to portray that China was giving him importance. Such a publicity gimmick was given front-page coverage by Kantipur just a day after it was published in the Maoist mouthpiece (see picture). Another daily paper Naya Patrika went as far as to say that Prachanda was selected as one of the 8 world leaders.

    The reader comments in the above pieces show how these papers succeeded in garnering support and sympathy for Prachanda. A few months later, Kantipur ran a report from the Expo. It read: “although it was advertised that Chairman Prachanda would address the Expo, he did not participate in any such event. The Nepalese Embassy in China said they had no knowledge of his participation as a special speaker in the event.”

    If they were mistakes, I am not aware of the paper which calls itself the country’s largest selling daily apologizing for them, leading me to believe that it was deliberate. I have also written of some other examples of Kantipur operating as a PR agency for the Maoist party.

    Continue reading

Prabhu Saha: Kantipur comes to rescue again


From today, I will write brief and frequent blog posts about various topics. Media analysis is a subject in which I would like to spend some energy. It is with the hope that:

  • readers get the choice of an alternative viewpoint and more critical thoughts
  • big media usually is more about vested commercial and political interests than about open ideas and critical discussion- this needs to be exposed more often
  • in Nepal, we can see that some media houses are helping the government and the rulers in becoming more irresponsible- this also needs to be exposed
  • the mainstream media can improve and correct their mistakes from the feedback of online publication media

Two years ago, when MK Nepal became the PM of Nepal following Prachanda’s resignation, Prachanda started a fiery campaign against the government. During a mass gathering in Baneshwor, Prachanda declared that the Indian establishment is the master of Nepalese affairs and he will only hold dialogues with the master and not the Nepalese government. He laid out a series of accusations on India. Prachanda had to receive a lot of flak for his Baneshwor speech.

This was not an isolated event however. As the following months would show, the Maoist party was to lead a well-planned aggressive campaign against the neighboring country.

But in a few days, the cover story of Kantipur had a very friendly-looking sketch of the leader with an accompanying story that described how soft-hearted and impulsive he was. It was as if the story was also a part of the design to gather public sympathy for Prachanda. After arguably one of the most disgraceful speeches any public personality has ever made in Nepal, the paper that calls itself the safe-guarder of our democratic system tried to save the speaker’s face by publishing personal anecdotes and emotional accounts. The article not only seemed to be defending the Baneshwor speech but also many other controversial statements made by the Fierce One in the past.

Prachanda: emotional and soft-hearted human

Prachanda: emotional and soft-hearted human

Continue reading

How our media helps sell children (by asking the wrong questions)


A month ago, 23 girls were brought to Nepal from an orphanage in South India in a mission led by the Esther Benjamins Memorial Foundation (EBMF), Nepal. The reason why the mission started was because the families of four girls from Humla requested the Foundation to get them their missing children.

Following the rescue of girls, a section of Nepalese media participated in a co-ordinated attack against the rescuers. Through their acts, our media is in fact helping the traffickers. To my information, Republica daily (Om Astha Rai) and Avenues TV (Khabar Bhitra ko Khabar) participated in this campaign. I am not sure if these media houses or reporters received benefits from the traffickers to write in their favor but my observation says that the arguments made by them was successful in influencing many other people.

I will try to explain how the questions they asked helped divert the issue and encourage the selling of children.

Background
The Michael Job Centre in Coimbatore from where the girls were rescued claimed on its website that it housed many orphaned girls from Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and some parts of India. It displayed pictures of the girls and asked for donations from Christians around the world. In return, the Center made the children pray for the donors and posted videos online. The girls taken from Nepal were also given Christian names and advertised as children of parents who were killed for being Christian by Hindu extremists in Nepal. In reality, all the girls had their parents and belonged to Hindu families. The EBMF went to Coimbatore to bring only four children. But as the operation busted their illegal operations, the Center disowned all 23 Nepalese girls it was housing and the rescuers had to bring them all back. Hindu groups in India launched protests against the Center against its proselytizing activities.

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Who is Saurav? (and Maila Baje)


I’m intrigued by two interesting and mysterious characters of the Nepali intellectual sphere. Though he still writes informative blog-posts, Maila Baje has chosen to keep himself secret for too long to be interesting anymore. Someday he’ll stop writing and someone will die at around the same time- and maybe we’ll know who he is. There has been some guesswork about his identity on Nepal-related blogs like here and here. Because the former army chief is known to have used a pseudonym (Ajay P Nath) to write in The Rising Nepal and elsewhere before, my wild guess is that Maila Baje is Rookmangud Katawal.

The other character, who is not as mysterious as Maila Baje regarding his identity is a columnist called Saurav. He writes with just this name (no last name) in the Kantipur daily. I noticed him first sometime in 2009 or 2010. Though I was bored by the first piece I read, I wondered who this well-learned person was. Since then I’ve read only a few pieces written by him, highly impressed by some, uninterested by others. Someone I knew happened to know his identity and, and I was impressed of what I heard from him. Today I read something interesting by him after long, a piece debating the origins of Nepal’s so-called indigenous races and the Khas people.

Continue reading

अधिकार र दायित्व


उधाहरणको निम्ति मानौँ कुनै सार्वजनिक स्थल, जस्तै बाटो, टुँडिखेल वा बसमा कोहि प्रेमी-प्रेमीका झगडा गर्दैछन्, या त प्रत्यक्ष या फोनमा । प्रेमीकाले प्रेमीलाई परस्त्रीसँग संबन्ध राखेको विषयलाई लिएर नानाथरी कुरा गर्दै गाली गर्दैछिन् । यो हामीले बारम्बार देख्ने गरेको, हेर्ने गरेको दृष्य हो । समाजमा यस्ता धेरै कुराहरु छन् जो हुन्छन्, घटिरहन्छन् भनेर हामीलाई थाहा छ, तर ती सम्बन्धित व्यक्तिहरुका नितान्त निजी जीवनका घटनाहरु हुन् । विवाद गर्न सकिएला कि निजी कुराहरु सार्वजनीक स्थानमा गर्न हुने कि नहुने वा कस्तो किसिमले गर्ने । सम्बन्धित व्यक्तिहरुले हामीलाई पटक्कै मननपर्ने र असभ्य शैलीमा आफ्ना क्रियाकलापहरु गरिराखेका पनि हुनसक्छन्, त्यसको समाधान कसरी गर्ने भन्ने कुरामा लामो बहस गर्न सकिन्छ । ती व्यक्तिहरुलाई मैला लुगाहरु घरमै धोउ, बाटोमा ल्याएर नधोउ पनि भन्न सकिन्छ ।

तर माथी उल्लेख गरिएको झगडाको संवाद भोलिपल्टको पत्रिकामा, ठूला, रङ्गिन अक्षरमा, सम्बन्धित व्यक्तिहरुका नाम सहित प्रकाशित गर्न हुने हो कि नहुने हो ? अझ देशको सबैभन्दा बढि बिक्रि हुने पत्रिकाले ? सो कुरा प्रकाशन गर्ने सम्बन्धित पत्रकार-सम्पादक र ती व्यक्तिहरुबिच केहि व्यक्तिगत रिसिबिको कारण यसो हुनगएको सम्म अनुमान गर्न सकिन्छ, तर पनि त्यसो गर्न हुने हो कि नहुने हो ?

अधिकार
संविधानमा राष्ट्रप्रमुखलाई प्रायजसो सङ्कटकाल लगाउने अधिकार दिईको हुन्छ, यस्ता धेरै विशेष अधिकारहरु हुन्छन् । तर सङ्कटकाल पुरै संविधानको आयुभरी गुई-चार पटक मात्र लाग्छ, यदि लागिहालेमा । अधिकार रहनुको मतलब जहिले, जसरी पनि त्यसको प्रयोग गर्ने पाउने भन्ने होईन । कुनै कुरा कानुनी हुनु भनेको सबै स्थितीमा, जे सुकै होस्, त्यसो गर्ने पाईन्छ भनेको होईन । कानून र अधिकार अन्धाधुन्द जे मनलाग्यो त्यसो गर्नेको लागी बनाईएको होईन – मानिसले आफ्नो सुझबुझ, र ठिक-बेठिकको ख्याल जहिलेपनि गर्नसक्ने भएको हुँदा ती अधिकारहरुको प्रयोग सुझबुझले नै गर्नेछन् भन्ने असल नियतको अपेक्षामा ती बनाईएका हुन्छन् । साथै सो अधिकार वा कानून प्रयोग गर्दा अन्य मानिसका अधिकारहरु हनन् वा कुण्ठित नहुने किसीमले गर्नुपर्छ भन्ने मान्यता हो ।

दायित्व
सबै अधिकार र कानून दायित्व बोधगर्ने मानिसहरुको असल नियतको अपेक्षामा बनाइएका हुन्छन्, होईन भने हरेक राष्ट्रप्रमुखले सङ्कटकाल लगाईदिए भयो वा अभिव्यक्ति स्वतन्त्रताको हवाला दिएर मेरो अभिव्यक्ति गर्ने तरिका काटमार र हिंसा हो, त्यसकारण यो कानूनी छ भन्दिए भयो । अधिकारहरुसँगै जहिले पनि दायित्वहरु गाँसिएका हुन्छन् – विना दायित्व अधिकारको कुरा गर्नु कुरै नबुझि उफ्रिनु जस्तै मूर्खता हो- दु:खसाथ भन्नुपर्छ मलाई त्यस्तो व्यवहार प्रती टिठ र दया लागेर आउँछ। कानूनी अधिकार र प्रजातन्त्रको कुरा गरेर सभ्य मानिस हुँ भन्नेले साथमै दायित्वका कुरा पनि बिर्सनु हुँदैन ।

यस्ता दायित्व निजी जीवनमा भन्दा सार्वजनीक जीवनमा बढि आइपर्छन्, त्यसकारण भनिएको छ, ठूला शक्तिसँगै ठूला दायित्वहरुपनि गाँसिएका हुन्छन् । प्रेसलाई राज्को चौथो अङ्ग भनिएको हुन्छ- यसको महत्व बुझ्न पहिला, दोश्रा र तेश्रा अङ्गहरु न्यायपालिका, व्यवस्थापिका र कार्यपालिका हुन् भन्ने सम्झनुपर्छ । त्यसकारण पत्रिका र पत्रकारहरुबाट पनि ती अङ्गहरुबाट अपेक्षा गरिने जस्तै दायित्वबोधको अपेक्षा गरिएको हुन्छ ।

खास के भयो ?
हुन त धेरै यस्ता उधाहरणहरु छन्: हामीले पत्रिकाहरु अझ बढि जिम्मेवार र समाजलाई सकारात्मक सुधारको बाटो देखाउन सक्ने होउन् भनेर आफूले जानेका कुरा र देखेका कमजोरीहरु औँल्याउँदै आएका छौँ- हाम्रो समाज आधुनिक समाज विकासक्रमको कलिलै उमेरमा रहेको हुँदा यहाँ धेरै गल्तिहरु हुनसक्छन्, हामीबाट र जोसुकैबाटपनि- महत्वपूर्ण कुरा तीनको मनन गरेर कसरी सुधारोन्मुख हुने भनेर प्रयास गर्नु हो। सबै विकसित समाजहरु आफ्ना पुराना गल्तिहरुले स्थापित गरेका नजीरहरुका प्रगती गरिरहेका हुन्छन् ।

त्यस्तै नेपाली प्रेस नेपालमै कार्य गर्ने हुँदा नेपाली समाजको चरित्र र बनोट अनुसारको भुमिका निभाउन जान्नुपर्दछ भन्ने मेरो मान्यता हो। धेरै पटक एकान्तमा रमाईरहेका प्रेमी-प्रेमीकाका तस्विर अनुहारनै देखिने गरी प्रकाशन गरिएका छन्, ती पनि ठूला पत्रिकाकै मुख्यपृष्ठमै । सो पत्रिकाका सम्बन्धित पत्रकारकै हकमा त्यसो भएको भए के प्रतिक्रिया हुनेथियो होला ? एकजना प्रविधिमा दखल राख्ने मित्रले त तपाँईहरुले सकेको गर्ने, हामीले पनि गर्न सकेको गर्ने भए यस्तो गैह्रजिम्मेवार काम जारी राखे हामी तपाईँहरुका फोन कलका रेकर्डहरु, गोप्य ईमेल वार्ताका प्रतिहरु सार्वजनिक गर्दिने लगायत तँपाईका वेवसाईटहरु बिगारिदिन पनि सक्छौ, त्यसकारण अलि राम्रो व्यवहार गर्नुहोला सम्म भनेका छन्, सार्वजनीक कार्यक्रममै । समाज यस्तै सबैको सद्भाव र असल नियतहरुमा टिकेको हुन्छ, सबैले आँफूले गर्नसकेको गर्ने हो भने यहाँ के के हुनेहो त्यसबारे सबैले कल्पना गर्न सकिन्छ ।

त्यस्तै हिजोआज कान्तिपुर को हेलो शुक्रबार भन्ने परिशिष्ठमा ट्विटरमा लेखिएका कुराकानीहरु छानेर प्रकाशित गर्ने गरेको छ । यसमा त्यस्तो आपत्ति गर्नुपर्ने केहि कारण छैन । तर प्रायजसो हरेक हप्ता मानिसका व्यक्तिगत कुराकानीका अंशहरु, र ती पनि तोडमोड गरेर प्रकाशित गर्ने गरेको पाईएको छ । यसमा केहि सम्बन्धित मानिसले यसो नगरौँ, यो प्रकाशित गर्दा त मेरो प्रेम जीवनमै धक्का पुग्ने भयो वा मेरो जागीर नै जाने भयो भनेर सो पत्रिकाका सम्बन्धित व्यक्तिलाई ट्विटरमै गुनासो गर्दा माथि उल्लेख गरिएजस्तै कानून-अधिकार र यावत असान्दर्भिक कुराहरुको हवाला दिएर गल्ति भएको हुनसक्ने र सुधार गर्न आपत्ति नहुने जस्ता समझदारीका कुरा गर्नुको साटो उल्टै धम्कि र “बढि नहो- म अरु पनि छाप्दिउँ ?” भन्ने जस्तो व्यवहार गरेको पाईयो ।

यस विषयमा हिजो ट्विट डिबेटमा पनि छलफल भइसकेको हुँदा कुराहरु दोहोर‌्याउन चाहन्न, सबै बिचारहरु त्यहिँ व्यक्त गरेको छु मैले पनि । सो बहसको उठान, निष्कर्शहरु र नतिजास्वरूप लेखिएको “सम्पादकलाई चिठ्ठि” इन्टरनेटमा उपलब्ध छन् । भूमिका घिमिरेले पनि राम्रो लेख्नुभएको छ । थप बहस गर्नुपरे तल कमेन्ट गर्नुहोला- म तयार र उपलब्ध छु ।

आशा गरौँ भविष्यमा यस्ता समस्याहरु सुझबुझका साथ विना धेरै वहस समाधान गर्नसक्ने क्षमताको हामीमा विकास हुनेछ र यस्ता विषयमा हप्तौँसम्म बहस गरेर बस्नुभन्दा देशका धेरै महत्वपूर्ण समस्याहरुछन्- आफ्ना अमूल्य श्रोतहरु त्यतातीत खर्च गर्नसक्ने स्थितिको निर्माण होस् । हामी सबैले एकअर्कालाई सहयोग गरेमा मात्र यो लक्ष प्राप्त गर्न हामी सफक हुनेछौँ ।

Some suggestions for Kantipur daily


Dinesh Wagle of Kantipur asked for suggestions from his twitter followers: “It wld be nice 2 know fellow Tweeps’ views re. Nepali papers, #Kantipur in particular. Suggest wat it shld change/add (no politics, pls).” I have a few complaints regarding the paper’s editorial stances in the recent past, but I will keep that for myself in this post. I assume Wagle wanted to engage the paper’s readers and get some new and possibly radical ideas about what they want to read apart from the editorial or political material in the paper. Here are a few I have in mind. I think these ideas would apply equally to other major vernacular dailies in Nepal. My words might sound a little preachy, and I apologize for that- feel free to comment and disagree.

  1. Conduct a readership survey
    It is high time the papers understood their audience. A lot has changed since Kantipur started publishing in the early 1990s and there’s no official figure about the paper’s readership. For the most part of last year, I have only read the online version of the publication and I assume a lot of people do it that way, but the paper has not adjusted itself very well to such readers. I think this is because they are not aware of their readers themselves. It would be useful to know about the kind of people who read this paper a lot.
  2. Let some fresh air in
    I appreciate that a lot of young and smart people are now part of Kathmandu’s journalism fraternity, including Wagle himself. They write equally well in both English and Nepali, they are very efficient and professional and I’m sure a lot of young readers read the papers only because of them. But a lot of other things in the paper demand change- for example the op-ed pieces are written by almost the same group of people for many years now. For such a young and rapidly changing population, a little more respect would be alright. It would also make the papers more relevant. At least to me, it is an irony that the mainstream of our society, including the media seems out of place and often irrelevant. But only a readership survey could verify it. Are the issues receiving attention and space really relevant to the people who read it? Is it what they want? Or are they misplaced?
  3. Try radical ideas
    • I think Kantipur should try a day or a week if possible, without its regular contributors. Get out to random but relevant people and put their perspective on print. Give importance to the significant opinions of otherwise insignificant people. Give place to young people from villages, cities and businesses. Try to see if your readers like it. I think they will. Op-eds about curbing corruption from a member of a corrupt establishment sound very hollow- let someone at the receiving end of the brunt say it. I’d like it more if I get to read real issues from real people.
    • Try guest editors- maybe for some sections, for some random days.
    • On some random days, and maybe for selected sections, try crowd-sourcing- let people on the internet or elsewhere (I don’t know where) decide what material gets to be published that day. Let them find or write articles, organize them and design them. It is good if you pay, but I guess people would do it anyway and I think your readers will like it. Maybe this effort will help you identify a set of new people and readers who you can consult with in the future too, and keep improving the paper.
    • Break away from the tradition on some days. Declare it beforehand if you want to see how people react to it. Don’t publish what the leaders said at some function- instead write about other people in that function, or the background work and hardworking people related to it. Completely ignore what most people want to be ignored anyway- and value other important events, heroes and issues instead. It might be difficult, but until you try, you don’t know if it’s worth the effort.

      You guys repeat a limited number of issues and opinions so many times that maybe you stress out a lot of people. You spread a lot of negative energy. During a discussion last year with my father, he told me, “your problem is that you follow Kantipur too much,” I tried following his suggestion and found he was right. For sometime, I was listening to 6 AM Kaayaa Kairan (newspaper reading), Kantipur FM 6:30 AM news, Kantipur FM 7 AM talk show and read Kantipur and TKP on a pretty regular basis. In reality, all of them have the same subject and material day-in day-out. I think there are a few, maybe some 100-200 words that occur in different permutations everyday (somebody should do an experiment and come up with an accurate figure). I think you guys make people more irritable and prone to mental conditions 🙂

  4. Take it seriously
    I don’t know how reasonable it is to expect this, given the realities of payments, skills and other daily distractions the writers in the publication might have to face. During the past couple of years when I’ve had the chance to observe the way Kathmandu’s press works, I have been convinced that many journalists don’t want to work hard. They don’t realize the power their words, pictures and visuals carry and their effect on the psyche of the people who read, hear or watch them. Media is very powerful in our society and many common people still follow them religiously. Of course it is ok to treat media as just a business and journalism as just another occupation, but with the kind of influence they have in our society, someone- I don’t know who, maybe the editors, publishers, government, citizen society, businesses- has to gradually make an effort to improve this. It is in a way, like the education system, which can shape the future of the society and the opinion-making process of our whole population.
  5. Do more research, put more effort
    Most journalists want news to come to them, they won’t go seeking for it. They will go seeking for it only if the news is happening in a star-hotel and there are free-foods and special treatment for scribes. In the districts, they go seeking news only if the CDO or the DSP offers them certain favors. Otherwise, they will side with the opposition party, seek their favors and seek news against the CDO and DSP. I will present some example (non-political ones). 

    • Example 1: Most material about telecom or internet in Nepal is copied directly from the press release of NTA and made into a half-page material. When Environment day comes, most papers will have the same thing- some material provided by some NGOs, some interviews with a known set of people and some mundane op-eds.
    • Example 2: I remember a civil servant from the PMO whose integrity I admire (I don’t know him much, I admire him for whatever I know of him). He wrote a piece in Nagarik about the ordeals of his road-travel from his home in Lumbini zone to Kathmandu. I think he did a pretty good job, and I respect him for that. Kantipur carried a story about the same incident, and cited policemen and some political cadres in Chitwan and maligned the civil servant. The paper carried the words of a few of those people as the ultimate truth. It was pretty clear that Kantipur either did it on purpose or failed to check the facts. In a time when good people, especially in government service are rare, and good ones should be encouraged and protected, I felt that the most influential paper was doing a major harm to the society. I totally don’t like it.
    • Example 3: Ok, it wasn’t Kantipur, but it could easily have been (and it often does). This was in Nagarik. I have read some pretty outrageous pieces about VOIP in that paper. There was one very long article which seemed clearly to have been sponsored by VOIP-mafia of Nepal (influential people, including those in NTC, NTA, government, politics, etc). The story essentially was a slew of words about the evils of VOIP technology and how it would cause a lot of losses and should never be allowed. It showed the proponents of legalizing and regulating VOIP in a very bad light, almost like criminals while almost all of the developed world and many of our neighbors have done pretty well legalizing and regulating it. It didn’t say a word about the other side of the argument, and was clearly a miserable attempt to influence/form public opinion of a particular bias. I don’t know what makes some journalists think that Nepal is still in 1970s, when there was only Gorkhapatra, and whatever written there was the official version of truth. There are many version of truth these days, and there are many people who know which one to believe in.
  6. Don’t bluff or beat around the bush
    This is true for other areas too, but especially about technology. Most pieces are just bluff. I have tried talking to some journalists, trying to explain some concept for some material they were preparing- but I found out that they didn’t have either of patience, interest or capability do try to listen and understand. And then they pretend they understand, but in the end, they write what they were writing anyway. Is this a national disease? Do we think not listening and just beating your trumpet is how to do things? And is this what we are teaching to others who might be looking upon us, and to the younger people? Our leaders do the same, our journalists do the same- who will set examples? While I said this is more common with tech-issues, now I think this is a familiar syndrome with everything that is not about national politics, leaders or celebrities, like: economy, and similar specialized subjects.
  7. Miscellaneous
    I will not delve upon other topics that are likely to be suggested by other people on twitter. Things include more interaction in the social media, more youth-oriented material, grammatical correctness, and so on.
  8. Replicate Successes
    Analysts who know a lot better than me have written that many serious material in the press are planted- but that is not the subject of this post. Pieces in our newspapers are so one-sided and carry the biases of the writer or whoever provided the information so blatantly that it becomes hard to realize we are reading news-paper and not a tabloid or a monologue. Of course I am not expert, but there has to be some effort to change this, and there are already a lot of examples amidst Nepalese journalists themselves (right now, I can think of Deepak Adhikari, Dinesh Wagle, Ujwal Acharya, HimalMedia, BBC Nepali Service, some independent journalists who write and correspondent for agencies, and a few younger scribes at Nagarik/Republica and Kantipur too). Journalists should take their jobs more seriously, do more research, back every sentence they write with facts, references or balanced mixture of sources and present a complete picture to the readers. I think the good and successful journalists (mentioned above, and others) should make an effort to instill their values and work ethics in others. Maybe they can start a business out of it- a professional journalism training school- or maybe an experimental niche-market media outlet that practices those values and delivers quality material to its readers, and in process shows how to do it right.