Journos complain national media of ignoring far west issues
Freedom Forum recently mobilized its media mission in the far western region of the country. During the mission, the FF team held interactions with the media persons, writer, professor, senior security officials and the local administrations on the overall issues of freedom of expression. It visited the office of the journalists- Khem Bhandari and G Batta- who were detained for a day by the local security over a news reporting and garnered information from both sides.
The journalists, security officers and chief districts officers from Kailali and Kanchanpur districts were asked to put forth their views on whether there was favourable atmosphere for political parties/leaders/cadres for peaceful election campaigning, whether journalists were working without any fear and suppression and enjoying the atmosphere for free reporting, and whether the media was inclusive and missing anything.
Separate meetings were held with the journalists, and security officials and local administration. In Kailali interaction, seven journalists from various media outlets participated in the interaction while Chief District Officer and Superintendent of Police had the interaction together. Even a noted book writer Ram Lal Joshi and a College Professor was interacted together.
Similarly, the mission team held interaction with ten journalists in Kanchanpur district.
Various sorts of views were expressed by the participants on the overall issues of freedom of expression. Most of them said the entire media was now focused on election issues at present because the Province No 7 was holding the second round of the local level elections on June 28. According to them, the region was not facing any hostile situation for the practice of FoE and information. The local security officials and the administrations said they were fully committed to protecting citizens’ FoE.
Some journalists however admitted that their affiliation to the political party was making them practice self-censhorship because they could not write any wrongdoings and irregularities of the political parties and leaders they are loyal to the political parties. While inflating news of one political party and reducing of other, it could invite threat/attack to media persons, they added.
Similarly, they admitted that they were focused more on the issues in the southern plains while ignoring the social and cultural issues of the high hills and mountains.
Responding to a question why they could not cover such news, they univocally said their media could not invest (pay) them to carrying out investigative reporting.
Another common view they expressed was that the issues of the far western region were egregiously ignored by the national media.
The media mission comprised of Media Monitoring Officer Narayan Ghimire from Kathmandu, and DR Pant and Umid Bagchand from Dhangadhi. It was the three day mission conducted from June 20- June 22, 2017.
A detailed report coming soon…..