Early this month, Gorkhapatra marked its 110th year of publication without much fanfare. Started as a weekly pamphlet to propagate the supposed virtues of Rana rule, Gorkhapatra has remained the trusted mouthpiece of the government. The tone and tenor of the paper's content changes with every change of guard at Singh Darbar.
However, since the Constituent Assembly elections two years ago, Gorkhapatra has acquired a somewhat different image. It's now one of the least biased newspapers in the country.
Part of the relative neutrality of this government publication can be attributed to the survival instinct of its employees. With a hung legislature, there is no way of knowing who is going to head the Ministry of Information and for how long. But Gorkhapatra's semblance of impartiality owes more to the stridently anti-Maoist tone of the private press. The government mouthpiece may not boast of accuracy, balance and credibility, but it has no reason to fear a Maoist takeover, and can therefore cover their side of the story as well.
With profit and prestige as their primary motives, partisanship comes naturally to the proprietary media. Paradoxically, that's precisely why they have to appear to be independent. Without the reputation of being fiercely free and fanatically fearless, the media cannot claim to be the watchdog of public interest, and will lose its influence the moment it is perceived as an apologist for the status quo.
The Four Theories of the Press of the early sixties sought to explain authoritarian, libertarian, responsible, and totalitarian methods of media operation. The state had to chose between collusion (libertarian and responsible) and control (authoritarian and totalitarian) models to manipulate the media according to its own character.
The seventies saw the emergence of the lapdog press as the Cold War took hold. In the anti-Soviet camp, freedom of the press implied supporting whichever dictator had been propped up by the West as an essential evil. In Soviet-supported regimes, any journalist who didn't support the government was merely a running dog of imperialism.
During the eighties, collaborative journalism emerged as the favoured method of managing the media. Its strictures were laid out by Lee Kuan Yew, who declared the government would not allow the media, "to assume a role in Singapore that American media play in America, that is that of invigilator, adversary, and inquisitor of administration." According to the doctrine of collaborative journalism, the state knows what is good for the people and the media's job is merely to magnify the state's achievements.
The commercial media, in cahoots with the leading political parties of the day, began to play an important role in decision making after the disintegration of the USSR. The trend proved to be so strong that it could now call itself a journalism of national consensus. The mainstream media agreed about everything that it decided was in the national interest. The rest were deviant and subversive
Once the Maoists exited government, the mainstream media in Nepal decided to support the successor coalition. While regular news reporting has continued apace, there seems to be a reluctance to hear, see or speak out against the anti-Maoist coalition.
The extent and scale of deforestation in the Tarai, for instance, is eerily reminiscent of the pre-Referendum devastation wrought to ensure the survival of the Panchayat regime. Law and order in the country has all but collapsed. Industrialists openly threaten to withhold taxes. Diplomats dictate terms undiplomatically. Despite mounting evidence of acts of omission and commission on the part of the current government, there is deafening silence on the media front.
It's the mortal fear of a Maoist takeover that has transformed the Nepali media into the willing accomplices of the government. Complicity journalism is Nepal's media contribution of the decade. Ironically, state-controlled media has been the honourable exception for once.
1. Himal Nepali
CK lal lai aajkal maobadi ko k saro chinta ho.....pahila press le maobadi lai free pass diyekai ho...aaaba ahile press lai pani maobadi bata disillusion bhayo bhanda huncha...tara tapai ajai pani pani khoi k ko aasha gardai hunuhuncha...tapailai thaha hola
04 JUNE 2010 | 12:45 PM NST
Nepali Times was attacked by the Maoists, its editor beaten up, staff manhandled and the office vandalised for printing an article about Maobadi extortion. At that time the Maoists were in power and Prachandaji was PM. In the same newspaper, CK Lal today writes: 'It's the mortal fear of a Maoist takeover that has transformed the Nepali media into the willing accomplices of the government. Complicity journalism is Nepal's media contribution of the decade.' Note to the Editor: Lal's loss of credibility is now starting to hurt your paper's credibility. This is not press freedom, it is the misuse of press freedom for How long will you tolerate one man's grand-standing? The metamorphosis of CK Lal from a credible intellectual to a psychotic sycophant is now complete.Wonder how much he was bought for.
04 JUNE 2010 | 1:42 PM NST
I usually think CK lal is a bit biased. But i like this one. I totally agree with him. It is necessary for media house to keep impartial and inform the masses on what is happening.
04 JUNE 2010 | 2:09 PM NST
Once upon a time, I used to always read CK Lal's editorials but nowadays I just read the first paragraph and give up. The problem for me is not pro-Maoist bias (intelligently written editorials with some bias are very welcome), but that these pieces about the media in Nepal are useless. He is always complaining in some abstract way, trying to sound like an expert.
04 JUNE 2010 | 2:34 PM NST
tons of people in kathmandu read nepali times because it¬†offers ck lal's column - i am one of them. the duty of an intellectual is to expose lies (to use the famous words of noam chomsky) and i can't think of anyone (at least not in the english-language press of nepal) who performs this duty as well as ck lal.¬†plenty of¬†people know, but very few dare to speak out. thank you, ck lal, for your wisdom and courage. you have become the conscience of¬†our degenerating society where 'the freedom of the press' has started to mean 'the freedom to tell lies'.
04 JUNE 2010 | 2:36 PM NST
6. Himal Nepali
Could not agree more with ¬†May. May be we should start a facebook¬†petition page demanding NepaliTimes to get rid of CK lal.
This guy is¬†megalomaniac¬†and thinks he can spew anything. I used to love his analysis before but he downward path has been similar to that of Prachanda.
Seems he too is headed towards "Prachanda Path".
04 JUNE 2010 | 3:24 PM NST
7. KIshor maithil
most of the newspapers have only one agenda : to support ¬†the loot of state wealth by the so called " sukila mukila ".
i would like to give you an example: way back in 90s when vijay gachhedhar used to hold the same ministry as today( minus deputy PM), the "malik " of kantipur (" nepal's largest selling daily") used to be an agent for a famous indian brand heavy earth moving machine . wonder what , he would put "his" paper's name as a successful business! ¬†responding to a contract by that ministry. ¬†he got the contract or not is a very different issue.
gachedar is still holding that ¬†powerful ¬† ministry and sirohiya is still the agent of that company (?), so how can any body expect that his paper( business) would criticize, despite gachedar's role in the medal distribution fiasco, his rightwing absurdities about a "hindu rastra".
this is the ground reality of nepali press of which kantipur is a prominent¬†
¬†i have only one story but you can find many more about other papers if you dare to dig, for them opposing maobadi is business !¬†
04 JUNE 2010 | 4:39 PM NST
Start a facebook¬†petition page? Make C. K. Lal a celebrity? Awesome.
04 JUNE 2010 | 6:34 PM NST
"The duty of the intellectual is to oppose lies" oh yeah, bikas? and who is there to expose the lies and regurgitated onanism of pseudos like Cynikal Lal week in and week out, especially since he's turned deep red? And now we have to read his tripe even in Republica. Original, forward looking and solution-oriented opinion is always welcome, but we are up to here in this copy-paste, googled guff. The Editors should just pull the plug on this guy and replace the space with something more worthwhile.¬†
04 JUNE 2010 | 7:18 PM NST
10. who cares
(i have been wanting to tell this for a long time.)
lately, those individuals or groups or media who really do not support (give or take) any individual or party are being blamed of being bias by those who are blindly supporting some individual or party.
this is going on may be cause it does not cost to speak, or majority of public do not respond to those hyperactives.¬
[by the way, why CK LAL has become pro maosit?
is it cause maoist support ethnic states or cause maoist are thrashing, killing pahadis?
trust me, if, maosit take over and some how they get N-bomb, madeshis will face genocide for being like bihari and ¬ newars will face the music for not supporting maoist.]
regarding govt media, TV, most of their news are tasteless and in case of programs, they do have a few pro maoist shows but do not have pro other party show.¬
so, we can say, NTV is pro maoist. and the reason i think is if democratic force go after them they can protest, go to court, ,,,,,,,, but they go against maoist, ycl will thrash them, ,,,,,,,,,, that is why they are not afraid of pro democrats but supports maoist cause of fear.¬
the way i see,
there are one maoist TV channel and many FM, 2/3 ex royal TV channels and 1/2 pro forum channels.
but i do not think there are absolute NC or UML channels.
but what amazes me is, its NC and UML who are suppose to complain, but no, its maoist and their supporters, and madeshis who complain.
O may be cause pro maoist channels are garbage so they do not count.¬
i have heard the pro maoist channel, fms, and i can feel their class.
anti maoist channels may focus on anti maoist news, exaggerate some what, sometimes do present imaginary news,
but have you watched, heard the pro maosit news. they are more like a propaganda, lie, they make up things.¬
there is the similar case going on with pro maoist and anti maosit columnists.
the way i have seen, those who are reasonable, intelligent, those believe in rule of law, freedom, honest etc are seen as anti maoist.¬
04 JUNE 2010 | 11:43 PM NST
"state-controlled media is less biased than the free press"
Sounds like a statement¬†of a finding from a really interesting scientific study of the press conducted in Nepal!! But don't believe it folks. These journalists try to act like social scientists and experts without a single input from such experts.
Hello Kunda-- I cannot believe an editor such as you, with a firm grasp on journalistic ethics, gives a free ride to CK Lal. Just because CK Lal believes or feels that something about something, you print it as a fact in your esteemed newspaper. CK Lal never says "I feel" or " I believe" or "My hunch is" but declares that state-controlled media is "one of the least biased newspaper in the country." Who told him so, are there any studies to prove that, what is the basis of his assertion? He may be right in his judgement, but does not he¬† have to say "May be state media is one of the least biased" etc.? Just because you guys can throw up some flowery English writing, you seem (mark the word "seem"-- I am not using the definitive "are" because I know as a human being I cannot be perfect in¬†my assertion) to think you can fool your readers.
05 JUNE 2010 | 11:43 AM NST
the way i have seen, those who are reasonable, intelligent, those believe in rule of law, freedom, honest etc are seen as anti maoist.¬†
But don't let anyone know. Otherwise you may just be privileged to have some bhautik karbahi gifted to you.
05 JUNE 2010 | 1:39 PM NST
madan (11), i think the basis of ck lal's assertion is that he reads all these newspapers. of course, he also happens to¬†know loads¬†of 'theories' from all sorts of 'experts' across the world, but i don't think he needs to beg their permission to decide whether or not a newspaper is biased. just out of interest, after reading a news report, do you¬†call an 'expert' or a 'social scientist'¬†to decide whether or not it is biased? now that's underestimating yourself a bit too much. i don't know ck lal personally, but from what i have read, i think he beats most social scientists in nepal in his breadth and depth of knowledge.
05 JUNE 2010 | 2:37 PM NST
I wonder- Is it possible to write a news item that is totally unbiased?
05 JUNE 2010 | 4:43 PM NST
@nisha Let CK explain himself, if he could kindly in his another column since Kunda himself, I think, might find this a worthy topic! Nobody is asking him to beg those experts, obviously, as you know¬†very well, ¬†we don't have that many around and that good. I for one would not read a report in the newspaper and jump to conclusion. Since Lal reads all those newspapers¬†(at least that is what you tell me-- I am amazed you keep tab on his reading every newspaper), how many reports in the government press were biased as against private newspapers, and which ones? If one proclaims the state press is "less biased", and one beats, as you assert,¬†"most social scientists in nepal" then understandably he does not need to beg experts for their permission to "decide" bias, and that is always good, nothing wrong with it.But ¬†I tend to think that he owes an explanation to his readers how he was able to "decide" it after all. You don't get to read that in his article, do you? It's a pity that a columnist of the stature of CK presents his opinon and impresssions as facts.The problem is not that he wrote the article (he should continue to write more and correct his valid flaws), but the fact that he must not fool the readers. A little editing by Kunda Dixit should help. A disclaimer, such¬† as this would be useful: "this is according to CK Lal" If CK Lal himself finds my comments genuine and fair, he can as well begin his future pieces "this is simply based on how I feel or what I ¬†believe." Is that too much to ask? Don't fool readers with your deceptive language of an expert when you don't share with them any expertise, but only your opinion¬† and hunches.
05 JUNE 2010 | 5:11 PM NST
16. Baburam Rai
"The maliceof the wicked is reinforced by the weaknessof the virtous." -Winston Churchill said.Apeasement does not take us anywhere.Leftfreaks are in fashion.CK is not the only exception.There are many civil society -wallas,tycoons,ex -janch bujh kendra-wallas,who are like Neville Chamberlain. They will come to their sensrs after our Munich!Let them regain their youthfullness by having pact with the Frankesteins.
05 JUNE 2010 | 6:18 PM NST
17. Prithvi Raj
Is this the same CK Lal who wrote, "‚Ä¶there is no denying that it was the oxygen of media coverage that helped the fire of insurgency blow into an inferno. Part of the reason behind media munificence towards the Maoists was pure romanticism. Revolutionaries fascinate scribes of all stripes. But there was also an element of hope that the guns of the Maoists may force mainstream politicians to mend their ways"? He wrote this after Himalmedia was attacked by "Maoist hoodlums" as Lal put it in this newspaper (Issue #431) in December 2008 (http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/2008/12/26/StateOfTheState/15506)? The hanuman of Late Girija seems to be looking for a new master in Prachanda!
05 JUNE 2010 | 8:23 PM NST
Discern truth from topic. Ask the mainstream media to be more democratic, more open but never ask them to be less jingoists with one and more jingoists with the other for the same cause or reason. don't ask them to be maoists, the Maoists as well as other political parties are not any regime, religion or culture , they are simply a political party. CK Lal, insist them to be a voice that advocates rights for all, take care of the most debil ones and keep the spirit of the system intact which mean fighting corruption, impunity, criminalisation of politics and advocate values of the system amongst all.
I believe that there are many things that could be of grand utility to our "mainstream media" than involving ourself in a mere game of topic. In brief please do as much as possible so that pluralism, democracy and social justice becomes its one and ultimate ideology and not a mouth piece of some patrika-wallahs. Humble suggestion:avoid topics, the line of separation between intelligently prepared topic and¬† the truth is not as abstract as this commentary from this week sounds. Let's wish CK Lal not becoming another sukila-mukila from the Maoists rank. Point of inflexion or coz antar-birodh between intelligencia vs intellectuals CK Lal? I am an ecological one CK Lal and the good ecologists study the past, works hard in the present thinking for the future. ¬†An observation: Baburam's website is virus infected¬† and the man does not reply to everyone, only lal salam and kamred you are Mahan are seen as feedbacks. Never again in my life i will visit it again, my computer does not have any culpability.... CK Lal If the Maoists are to allow whatever they want, then even you will not enjoy what you are doing as a free thinker right now, don't expect that they will ever make you the chief of intellectual tribune that the Maoists jansambhidhaan has envisaged for. By the way no media house has so far commented-praise or criticise- about 170 pages of the maoists constitution, Why? So anti-maoists CK Lal thinks the "mainstream medias" is(this word sounds fashion ultimately, classist and so snob terminology, mainstrrreeeeam) but look even a remarkable feedback wasn't seen till the day in these same newspapers, the announcement went as normal news.
Don't worry CK Lal, the Maoists are going to have their own media-house. Prachanda will write analysis, Baburam will prepare editorials and Baidhya will serve us their "people's ideology" on daily basis. We'll see how it will look alike exactly!
05 JUNE 2010 | 12:54 AM NST
I can only read the english language web sites. Can anyone tell me how different they are from the Nepali equivalents? Presumably there are many Nepali articles not translated to english and the editors of the english edition could have a slightly different approach to the editors of the nepali edition.
Although they are all strongly anti-Maoist my impression is that Kathmandu Post is somewhat less so than "Rising Nepal" (Gorkhapatra). This is the opposite to C K Lal's impression.
On the other hand, if ones eyes simply glaze over completely at endless reports of what government Ministers have said, the balance of remaining items might be different. I do read those reports of what Ministers say but would guess that is a rather peculiar habit and C K Lal, perhaps like most readers, may simply skip them, thus forming a different impression.
06 JUNE 2010 | 2:21 AM NST
I do¬†agree¬†with Lal statement that State owned media are the least biased media compare to Free press. Every state do have compulsion to support the national agenda and the national development including social awareness, Public health campaign, imparting education and excluding the social taboos. State owned media are obliged to fulfilled the Social responsibility and to protect the democratic norms within the society. You can compare those who hold Cross Media Ownership (Radio+TV+¬†Newspaper¬†+ Online) could incorporate their own personal business agenda rather then the national agenda. So i personally belief that State owned media are least biased rather then Private media or some media run by Foreign¬†Investors.¬†
07 JUNE 2010 | 10:46 AM NST
Arthur(19), I regret to inform that Nepali newspapers are equally if not more¬†anti-Maoist than the English-language press. Kantipur is downright anti-Maoist both in its news reports, editorials and even¬†the so-called¬†"letters to the editor" (One or two¬†occasional columnists like Hari Roka¬†and Yug Pathak might be an exception). Himal Khabarpatrika, another major Nepali¬†magazine,¬†is run by the Dixits so you can imagine (it does contain interesting¬†feature articles and a couple of good columnists to make it worth reading).¬†Nagarik is the sister publication of Republica, so you can imagine¬†that too. Perhaps the most¬†sensible Nepali daily from mainstream media is Naya Patrika, a left-leaning paper that also¬†gives space to¬†right-wing voices. Mulyankan is¬†another important¬†left-wing weekly; former editor was Shyam Shrestha, a brilliant civil society activist. I¬†strongly recommend that you go over these papers with someone who can identify and translate good articles for you. Because the English-language press is severely limited.¬†And the last thing I'd do is rely on the "from the Nepali press" section of this paper!
08 JUNE 2010 | 4:15 PM NST
look at all these cheap comments....the kathmandu attitude is so deeply rooted in these hypocrites readers...can't figure out what is the definition of the democracy for them....uninterrupted power supply for the city,free flow to loot the state coffers,use state resources for their wife childrens,and unlimited opportunity to stay in power and oppress who oppose....this is the democrarcy for the valley elites...and no wonder the press freedom and their percepted enemy are based on these assumptions...this reminds me of inferiority complex as freud defined....so true for these elites....
cannot even give some god damn respect for the personality who have committed his whole life for the cause of press and its freedom....kathmandu had never and will never recognizw him.....an intellectual misery.......
08 JUNE 2010 | 5:32 PM NST
Prem, 21,¬†needs a reality check if he thinks Kantipur is anti-Maoist. That statement alone makes me question the rest of his views. MJ
09 JUNE 2010 | 4:30 PM NST
Thanks for the information Prem!
09 JUNE 2010 | 4:46 PM NST
excellent article. Analysis as well as facts are true.
I hope you have more receptive readers.
Pleasure reading as usual
09 JUNE 2010 | 2:31 AM NST
CK¬†is conveniently forgeting the 12 months after CA elections (and the year preceeding to that) when the Maoists were controlling the national media, Gorkhapatra for example. It was more biased during that period than even during the royal period.¬† CK should learnt to tell the truth-- he was telling a lot of lies through Maoists sponsored media during the indefinite bandh. Just because his loyalties have changed doesn't mean he can go on a free run to bash other as anti-Maoists.