Journalists’ safety at receiving end of political agitation

(Sushil Darnal)

Kathmandu, Dec 28: The agitation continued by some political parties in different Tarai/Madhes districts has left journalists’ safety at the receiving end.
The agitation kept on since a month before the promulgation of the constitution (September 20) has posed serious challenges to the media and journalists in the southern plains of the country.
According to a monitoring conducted by Press Council Nepal in the agitation-affected Tarai/Madhes districts, the journalists received flurry of intimidations as attack, manhandle, verbal abuse, vandalism of press vehicles. Even the petrol bomb was hurled at a reporter’s home.
“Both the agitating parties and the State (security persons) were hostile to media. They continued attacks and threats on journalists. It shows the entire media is facing risk,” said Borna Bahadur Karki, Chairperson of Press Council Nepal
The continuous strike and blockade have negatively affected the circulation of the newspapers. Many newspapers have cut the pages while the FM stations too cut airing time. It was caused due to the lack of materials including the advertisement essential to survive the media, he added.
On the occasion, FNJ Chairperson Dr Mahendra Bista said the media persons were bound to violate code of conduct due to mounting pressure on them in the name of political agitation.
The monitoring team has underlined the effectiveness of the role fulfilled by majority of media outlets in such a difficult scenario. It further stated that the language and style being used, and professionalism and discipline shown by many of the media were in non-compliance with the code of conduct.
The team said that many presentations were inflammatory in nature thereby disrupting social harmony and inviting violence and discord.
Similarly, Broadcasting Association of Nepal (BAN) Chairman Gopal Jha said that those violating the journalists’ code of conduct included not only the journalists and media houses based in Tarai, but the central level media outlets and insisted the Council must take action on them too.
Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) member with the monitoring team, Shital Mahato, said that some FM Radio stations were found to have breached the code of conduct and accused them of attempting to further fuel the agitation.
Pointing out the emergence of flaws with the onset of latest technologies, the monitoring team insisted on making online news portals, social networking sites and newspapers independent, responsible and accountable to the country, and establishing them in the mainstream media.
“The central media is also responsible for the Madhes agitation becoming more anarchic and violent, the news report sent by the local correspondents in the districts are not broadcasted or published and even if published are distorted with the meaning given a new dimension which has made the local journalists and media outlets suffer. The concerned side must be serious towards this issue,” argued the report. RSS