The Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) recently declared its strong political support for the transformation of Nepal into a democratic republic. This political declaration, made during the FNJ's eighth central committee meeting in Dhulikhel last week, made the federation sound more like a political party.
This raises serious question about the professionalism, ethics, and independence of journalism. It also proves that journalists are being manipulated politically. The federation is meant to help journalists in lobbying and advocacy for their rights and freedom, and when necessary to launch a movement.
It's true that the FNJ fought strongly for freedom of press during the king's direct rule, and also actively took part during the street protests even in prohibited areas. During the April Uprising it was inevitable that the federation reach some sort of minimum understanding with the political parties to struggle for press freedom. But that was about as far as journalists could go without harming their profession.
FNJ's decision violates the basic code of ethics. An organisation of journalists that makes demands similar to those of a political party, or acts as a sister group to one, is being irresponsible and crossing a basic line. Fighting for one's minimum benefits, dignity, rights, and independence is one thing, but the federation's avowal of political goal taints journalism as a profession. Parties, not journalists, set political goals.
The federation should be satisfied when there are no obstacles to press freedom. It should work towards freeing journalists from influences. It should also work towards liberating journalists from biases towards any party, organisation, community, ideology, person or group with vested interests. The federation's ultimate goal should not be political, but to make journalists more capable and independent. Failure to do this will not only make journalism weaker but will also