The local administration in Rukum Paschim district has sought clarification from reporter Ganesh Bishu over the news published in a national daily on December 4. Rukum Paschim lies in Karnali Province of Nepal.

Earlier, news about delayed service delivery at the District Administration office was published on Novmeber 13. The reporter had also quoted four local citizens as news source.

Reporter Bishu shared with Freedom Forum that Chief District Officer Badrinath Gaire formed a four member probe team to seek justification over the news.

A letter issued to the probe team read: On the news published about DAO’s service in the newspapers and online, please proceed an investigation upon the service delivery and ask the reporters for proof of the news.

Following this order, chief of the committee Kamal Dahal called Bishu on his phone on December 4 and asked for clarification. But Bishu said that he denied any clarification adding as a reporter it is his right to report on the public issues, and all the bytes from sources were safe with him.

The news was also published on (an online news portal) after which editor Govinda KC was called for clarification over news contents, according to FF’s representative Laxmi Bhandari.

Again, on December 21, Bishu and KC learned that the administrative authority had called the news sources and asked if they had provided any information to the media.

Freedom Forum welcomes the initiative taken by CDO over the news. It is good that his news has created impact. Similarly, if there is any discontent the administration has with the news, it can follow the right course to show concern. However, grilling journalists in the name of investigation and forcing them to disclose news sources is against press freedom. Reporters need to protect news sources for their and sources’ safety.

If the reporter is harassed in the name of probe, it is against journalistic values and a threat to investigative reporters. So, FF urges the probe team to treat journalist in a way it respects his right to free reporting.

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