Seminar report on
Initiatives for Democracy Building:
Roles & Responsibilities of Journalists in Voters and Civic
Organised by National Media
Development Center (NMDC)
13-14 June 2007, Lalitpur
The formation of interim government on first
April, 2007 with the involvement of Maoist party inspired the
general public to be involved in the peace process. The interim
constitution 2007 has been amended for the second time on 13
June 2007 deferring the constituent assembly (CA) poll by November
2007. The legislature parliament passed necessary bills related
with CA elections. Election Commission (EC) has been fully involved
to prepare necessary bylaws and other election related logistics.
For the first time in history the people of
Nepal are making their own Constitution through Constituent
Assembly (CA) election. People have to be aware of the role;
importance, procedures, mechanism and electoral system of CA
and voters rights. Journalists always remained in forefront
in democratic movement of Nepal and it is the only wide reach
and effective means in educating the people. Journalists must
be aware of this issue of CA before informing the people through
media. At the same time, they have to be more responsible and
accountable in their profession so that people get accurate,
balanced and true information.
National Media Development Center (NMDC) media
management and journalism training, and research center established
for the empowerment of provincial media has been involved in
various activities. It is a hard fact that we have to organize
various skill development activities to empower the media. Only
the responsible media can be the nerve of the citizen. One of
the major missions of the NMDC is to empower district media-journalists
so that they will be able in bringing the voice of voiceless
and campaign for representation of excluded and marginalized
in CA elections. This approach ultimately supports to establish
and nurture democratic political culture at local level.
Analyzing the existing hard reality NMDC has
decided to organize 14 zonal level media training program on:
Democracy building: Roles and Responsibilities of journalists
in voters and civic education. It will be a zonal level program.
Editors and journalists of all districts of the proposed zone
will participate and involve in a group work at the program
and discuss on democracy, CA, CA procedures, electoral process
and system, state mechanism and, voters rights and roles and
responsibilities of journalists. The objective of the training
is that the participants widen their knowledge on the current
issues and become able to disseminate content-wise information
fairly and impartially to the people. According to the scheduled
plan, it has organized two Zonal level training programs at
Palpa other at Katmandu. Another program will be organized at
Surkhet, Bheri zone in near future.
This is the progress report of the two-day
Training/seminar organized in Katmandu in co-operation with
FES Nepal on 13-14 June 2007 at Hotel Himalaya.
Rational of the two-day program
This is the iron-heated time when the Nepali
media should embark on a journey that involves work, which has
to be done creatively, responsibly and cautiously so that strengthening
peace, as well as consolidating participatory and inclusive
democracy through drafting a new constitution can be materialized.
This, in reality is a very difficult task where media at first
should get inhaled and then disseminate it to the people through
their respective media outlets in a simple language.
As the country moves on towards the CA electin
which will write a new constitution, a sustained and systematic
plan has to be put to work for removing hurdles and existing
confusion regarding the processes to reach the goal. NMDC, a
media training center purposes to run a series of training programs
to the district journalists across the country to meet the current
Nepali media do break event stories about
government debate, dissatisfaction, political developments,
and other news; they seldom go beyond the basics for serious
analysis and investigation. As an example, what "constituent
assembly is" "what are the electoral process and system"
"what are the rights of the citizens" means -- beyond
that its product is a new constitution -- has so far not been
part of public dialogue. It was therefore necessary to sharpen
the understanding of journalists on CA, civic and voters education
and their roles and responsibilities.
This two-day program become able to the make
journalists understand on democracy, CA, CA election and voters
rights including roles and duties of media, so that they partially
become able to report it fairly, honestly, impartially and responsibly
to readers, viewers and listeners.
The overall objective of the training seminar
a) To empower district journalists to strengthen the national
response to build democracy.
a) The specific objective of the training/
To enhance the capacity of understanding of journalists on democracy,
CA election, civic and voter's education and their professional
roles and responsibilities.
Focused area of the program
The two-day program was conducted as per the
content agreement with FES Nepal. The program focused on transferring
of skill, knowledge and expertise on democracy, constitution,
constituent assembly, civic and voter's education and the roles
and responsibilities of journalists.
As per the strategic plan of NMDC, this is
the second program organized in Kathmandu in cooperation with
FES Nepal. (The first program was organized in Palpa in cooperation
with Department of Information).
a) Geographical Coverage:
INMDC invited journalists from Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktpur,
Nuwakot, Kavre and Sindhupalchowk to participate in the program.
Journalists from Dhading, Rasuwa, Dolkha and Ramechhap will
be invited in other programs. Journalists of regular (on the
basis of Press council report) newspapers and FM radios were
b) Inclusive Policy:
NMDC in consultation with FES adopted a clear, inclusive policy
while selecting the participants. NMDC invited media trainers,
women journalists, dalit journalists and journalists from ethnic
minorities and marginalized and disadvantaged groups. Attention
was also given to the senior journalists who usually did not
get opportunity to participate in such a program.
The target members of this two-day training
seminar program were the editors and reporters of newspapers
(daily, weekly, fortnightly and monthly research and investigative
magazines) and FM radio stations.
This program gave high priority to journalists
of reputed weeklies and magazines who usually get less opportunity
to participate in such programs. NMDC took suggestions from
PCN, FNJ and FES while selecting the representatives. It gave
high priority to woman, janajati, madeshi and dalits.
The major outputs of the two-day program are
1. Capacity of 57 editors and senior reporters
of 6 districts of Bagmati zone on CA , civic and voters education
2. Understanding of journalists on CA Election, voters and civic
3. Journalists sharpened their understanding on the roles and
responsibilities during CA election reporting.
On the basis of the developed criterion, NMDC
sent written invitation letters to the journalists of national
dailies, weeklies, fortnightlies, investigative and research
monthly magazines and FM radios stations. It also invited journalist
representatives from women, media training institute, Aadibasi
Janajati Journalist Association, Jagaran Media Center, Medhshi
Journalists Association, Journalists from Ethnic Minority and
A total of 57 journalists from print- daily,
weekly, fortnightly and monthly magazine and electronic FM radio
stations and TV actively participated in this two-day program.
They included senior working journalists, editors, and media
trainers from 6 different districts including Kathmandu, Lalitpur,
Bhaktapur, Nuwakot, Kavre and Sindhupalchok of Bagmati Zone.
Apart from Bagmati zone there were one from Surkhet-Mid west
and other from Mahendranagar- Far west. The details of the participants
on the basis of Media, Gender and Ethnicity and Districts are
a. Media Representation:
b. Ethnicity and Gender:
C. Participation on the basis of Districts:
Highlights of the Program:
Chief Guest Honorable Mr. Subash Nembang Speaker
of the Legislature parliament inaugurated the two-day training/seminar
program at 09 am on 13 June 2007. Other guests on the inaugural
program were Mr. Rajendra Dahal, Chairman, Press Council Nepal,
Mr. Bishnu Nishnhuri, President, Federation of Nepali Journalists,
Mr. Mukunda Acharya, Director General, Department of Information
and Mr. Harihar Birahi, Former Chairman, Press Council Nepal
and Mr. Tara Nath Dahal, Chairman, National News Agency.
Inaugurating the session, Mr. Nembang appreciating
the program asked the organizer to organize such program across
the country. He said that the role of the media is very important
for the consolidation of democracy in the country. He further
said that media can only be fostered in democracy and similarly
without a strong media democracy cannot be institutionalized.
Pointing for the need of responsible media he said, media should
be stronger and responsible. Nepali media should play a very
crucial role in informing the local people about CA. Focusing
on CA election, Mr. Nembang said without CA election the achievements
of April 2006 movement could not be preserved.
The President of the FNJ Mr. Bishnu Nishthuri
criticizing the government's role in supporting the media said
that despite government's support Nepali media has been reached
in the remotest districts taking their responsibility honestly.
Asking to be more responsible to the political parties he said,
media's role is to make a linkage between the people and the
state. President of the Press Council Nepal questioned about
the credibility of Nepali media and stressed that responsible
media only can support in fostering democracy. Senior journalists
and former Chairman of Press Council Nepal Mr. Harihar Birahi,
Chairman of National News Agency, Mr. Taranath Dahal and Director
General of Department of Information Mr. Mukunda Acharya also
expressed their views on the role of media during CA.
Mr. Dev Raj Dahal, Head FES Nepal welcoming
to all dignitaries and participants highlighted the objectives
of the two-day program. In a welcome address, he said modern
society is largely media mediated as family, religion and schools
are becoming weak in the socialization of citizens. Media can
contribute to ease the nation's transition process by offering
a number of choices that are essential to strengthen the integrative
capacity of the political system and its external adaptability
and open the citizens' window to cosmopolitanism.
NMDC President Mr. Bishnu Prasad Sharma Chaired
the inaugural session. Addressing from the Chair Mr. Sharma
said democracy always needed free and independent journalism
to get started and media always should absorb the values of
democracy being responsible. Nepali journalism is not beyond
danger yet. Local media should be strengthened providing them
abundance of opportunities. Mr. Sharma repeating the commitment
of the Center requested the Nepal Government, Election Commission
and donor community to support to carry out such programs at
the local level. At the end he thanked all participants, guests,
chief guest and FES for their kind address and remarkable support.
The opening session was organized for about
an hour and all together 63 participants including the guests
participated the program.
Training /Seminar Session
This two-day training/seminar program was
divided into 4 different sessions. All sessions were designed
with sufficient reference materials, paper presentations and
interactions. The papers distributed at the seminar are attached
herewith in the annex. All resource persons and Chairpersons
of the sessions made clear to the queries raised by the participants.
In two-day program the participants spent 15 hours including
informal introductory sessions. All journalists got orientation
on democracy, different aspects of CA, election procedures and
electoral system, and roles and responsibilities of journalists.
The participants were actively engaged in an interactions related
to the topics in each session. The detailed program of each
session is attached in annex 'B'.
The resource persons of the two-day program
were Mr. Dev Raj Dahal, Head FES, Kashi Raj Dahal, Constitutional
expert and former Secretary of Supreme Court, Mr. Neel Kantha
Uprety, Commissioner, Election Commission and election expert,
Mr. Vinaya K. Kasajoo, Media Trainer, senior journalists and
writer and Bishnu Prasad Sharma, President, NMDC coordinated
Closing and Evaluation Session
In an informal closing session, participants
were asked to express their experience of the two-day program.
Speaking at the session, Ms. Bishnu Sharma Gyawali said that
such programs are very useful however such they should be organized
in the districts. Similarly, Bishwamitra Khanal from Nuwakot
said that NMDC should also think about the insurance for the
journalists during the period of election reporting.
i) Such programs are useful and should be
organized at district level
ii) It should be training focused and should be extended for
iii) Certificate should be distributed
iv) Organization should work for the management of insurance
to the journalists who will be involved in election reporting
during CA election.
v) Allocated time should be managed properly