Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Media phobia



Successive Nepali rulers have always harboured a phobia about the media. They have hesitated from fully disclosing details of issues of domestic or international importance in the mistaken belief that it will somehow undermine them. In fact, they have always believed international agencies more than the domestic media. There can only be two conclusions from this: Nepal's rulers have always felt insecure about the media's power or only those who have never understood the importance of a free media have become rulers.

Such insecurity doesn't increase the prestige of those in power, it damages national reputation and kills creativity. There are plenty of examples from recent Nepali history of rulers who have clamped down on media because it has been critical of them or because they just don't know how to use an independent and credible media for their own purposes.

Part of the reason for this immaturity in dealing with media is because there hasn't been enough debate on the importance of the fourth estate in safeguarding democracy. What kind of understanding should exist between the government and media? What are the rights and responsibilities of the media? We will not claim that the Nepali media hasn't made mistakes in the past. But curbs on the media's freedom have always fed a backlash against the state.

The government set up after 1 February 2005 has been expressing dissatisfaction about the media's reporting but doing precious little to use the power of that very media to improve Nepal's standing domestically and internationally. The most vivid proof of this is that the Nepali people have to depend on foreign reporting about their own country.


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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