Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Code of conduct for journalists


I begin with an incident. Alok Bohara, with whom I studied, now lives in the US and supports Kathmandu University. He wanted to see me, and I met him. The next day, a newspaper reported that the president had met a RAW agent named Alok Joshi. I did not complain, did not even clarify, as advised by my press advisor. There are things that are better not spoken of. However, the truth should come out, which is the responsibility of journalism.

The opposition accused me of capturing booths during the CA elections. When I was a minister, some papers reported that I went to the UK for treatment of AIDS. The press council for journalists should be what the medical council is to medical doctors and the Nepal Bar Association is to lawyers. One has to pass a standardised exam followed by nine months of training to join the security forces. Civil servants take a government exam. But journalists acquire a license without having to take any such test. The Nepal Press Council needs to think of some test for journalists. Even a driver needs to pass the trials, why not journalists?

The Interim Constitution has emphasised consensus, as did the election results. Press people should understand the Interim Constitution, the CPA and the Special Committee on PLA Integration are the guidelines for completing the peace process.

Reporters should write in the national interest. They should play the role of social coordinators. More articles should be written about national unity, integrity and ethnic harmony. Violence of any kind can never be overlooked. Journalists have been targets recently. There are high professional hazards but they are not supposed to keep quiet.
Our media seems superficial, they do not go deep into issues. I don't like to read about ethnic and regional issues. The press should pacify the situation instead of aggravating it. I wish there would be more write-ups in favour of the national interest that would help maintain regional harmony between the himal, hill and Tarai regions.

A reporter needs to understand the pros and cons of deciding on states based on ethnicities. My request to the press people is they should work hard. What is the use of medicine after death?

1. Kate
I agree with all that is said with the exception of reporters writing in the national interest. I think reporters should write in the best interest of the international society, sometimes the truth of a story is not in the national interest but is still a truth to be told.

2. Sushil
Kate's comment: "..should write in the best interest of the international society."? I hope it is not a typo. How about "in the best interest of transparency, truth, and informed public discourse."

3. Sonam Ongmo
Finally, a voice with reason in the Nepalese govt. It is high time that someone realized this about the Nepalese media and how irresponsible it has been - not only on matters in Nepal, but also the region. I have been trying to drive this point to Nepalese writers, that they should be focusing about issues in Nepal and the region; and trying to improve social issues within its own country instead of writing superficial reports that do nothing but aggravate the poor and dis-enfranchised. Nepalese media can play such an important role in improving their own society and the lives of so many marginalized people by promoting awareness, by denouncing violence and bad ways of achieving a means to an end. The Himalayas are a fragile and vulnerable region. The more peace and stability there is in this region, the better it will be for all the people there. Nepalese journalists/media should shoulder the responsibility of promoting that environment within their own country and in the region.

4. Budabaaje
Ya, ya. Gyanendra used to say the same thing: media should be "responsible" etc etc. Back then, Yadavji and his party were only interested in coming to power. So they encouraged the media to say/do whatever they want. They themselves encouraged the 'chhada' media. Now he wants the media under control...haha Yadavjyu, if you spoil your children when they are kids they gonna bother you when they grow big. You reap what you sow, sir!

5. Singapore
When the press doesn't change, change yourself and how you work. Don't depend on the middlemen (the press) to report to the janata what you are up to. Set up a blog or a twitter account, and have your press advisor type away full-time for you about what you eat, whom you meet, what you wear, what music or buckwash you listen to,what pizza toppings you enjoy and what kind of achar you have with your morning dal-bhat, etc. As it is, your press advisor seems to have little to do, so make him work for you. Barring issues of national security, inform all what you are up to. Let the tax-paying janata hear from you (er, your press advisor about you), straight. Problem solved. Expecting Nepali journalists to change in the name of the truth is like expecting a fox to turn vegetarian.

6. Sargam
In this digital age of 21st century how the journalism may regain the credibility and respectability in maintaining a sort of self-regulation for the independent stance. The society as a whole is posing the journalistic profession some tellingly important questions about transparency, about professional self-regulation, about professional code of ethics, and about accountability. When a dog bites a man it doesn't make news, whereas when a man bites a dog that makes the NEWS (N=North, E=East, W=West and S= South.) Journalists' role in the society is that of "fact finders", and equally they are responsible for both informing and protecting their readers, by averting the offending, false and persuasive nature of news. The controversy encompasses a large number of ethical principles as some newspapers and websites choose deliberately to support insane advertisements and some others choose to run them as an Op-Ed entities. A journalist presents facts without making judgments. The aim of a journalist is to be read what he has written. It is therefore his job to convince his readers that they should read his article from beginning to end. He must be persuasive taking them by hand, enticing them, guiding them along his entire text and leave them with a good feeling. Hence an article must be airy and well represented. Sometimes a picture or a graphic is worth a thousand words. A journalist once he has chosen an issue must respond to the question "What's new? What is the key message he is delivering? Does that meet the aspirations of his readers? Next, he must be sure and certain if his article answers the six following questions: Who? What? Why? Where? Whom? How? (6Ws rule.) A journalist bears immense responsibilities to readers if he is willing to earn their fidelity. His information can become sometimes the real source of enjoyment and equally the source of misguidance. How to make sure that his article obey to basic deontology professional, and meet a true scientific approach? For that:1) he must be independent 2) he must prove what he says, and 3) he must quote his sources (and data) every time a data or a figure is available. If he scrupulously respects these 3 rules his article will gain credibility and relevance. Nowadays what we observe is the television journalism which is the permanent infotainment as ideology together with sensationalism, thereby blurring all possible boundaries and making talkback as news. Last but not least, academic study of journalism and mass communication over the past fifty years has shored up with a new flight. But still this profession hasn't earned its nobility of spirit to endorse its infallible and established normative rules. And this intellectual challenge shall become in future strikingly stringent at a time when human beings are facing the clash of different civilizations with different medias interposed as catalyst of ideas by making simulacrum of immediate effects.

7. May
I like what Nepal's first president says. At last a national figure with some brains.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)