Report of the Workshop on Civic Education
for Women Journalists
Organised by Sancharika Samuha Nepal
6-7 April 2011
There are good reasons why the media
is vital to civic education. Media plays a crucial role in constructing
or deconstructing people's perception and belief system. Similarly,
studies show that media reporting of civic and political events
can influence the ways through which people perceive, and participate
in, political life. In addition media can be an important bridge
to fill the gap between state mechanisms and public providing
important information on basic civic education as well as better
coverage of public policy news. It is an important gap to fill,
because limited public understanding makes it difficult not
only for policymakers to serve effectively but also for citizens
to hold them accountable for fulfilling (or not) their responsibilities.
At the same time, in a democratic rule of governance it is essential
that media realizes its role of a 'watchdog' as well as the
fourth estate in order to function effectively. Therefore, enabling
and empowering media itself on various tenets of civic education
and democracy is must.
On the other hand, most of the times women
journalists have been sidelined from covering civil and political
issues due to gender discrimination prevailing in media sector.
They are mostly given the work of covering soft issues related
to entertainment, glamour and the like. Therefore, this hampers
their knowledge and competence as informed and aware media professionals
as well as limits their understanding on the democratic role
Considering the above, Sancharika Samuha in
support of FES held two days workshop programme to orient women
journalists of western region on the topic to generate greater
understanding and awareness. This initiation is the first step
where the women journalists are informed about the concept of
civic education, civic education in media and the role of media
in civic education.
The program aimed that it would contribute
towards meeting following objectives:
- Enhance the civic competence of women journalists
to aid them in their analysis and reporting of civic affairs
- Raise greater civic consciousness among
women journalists about the democratic role of the media;
- Encourage greater prioritization of civic
news among media institutions
Session I: Inaugural session
The program started with an inaugural session.
The distinguished guests present in the session were:
Mr Deepak Gyawali, Chairperson FNJ, Rupandehi
Mr Hari Lamsal, Central Member FNJ
Mr D.R. Ghimire, Advisor, FNJ, Rupandehi
Mr Pradeep Acharya, Vice President,Press Chautari, Rupandehi
Mr Rudra Hari Kunwar, Secretary of Association of Revolutionary
Mr T.P. Bhusal, Press Union, Rupandehi
The program began with remarks by Ms. Amrita
Anmol, a local coordinator. Ms Anmol welcomed distinguished
guests and all the participants of the programme. She expressed
her gratitude to FES and Sancharika for selecting Rupandehi
to organize the programme. Besides she highlighted the importance
of holding this program by stating that the purpose of this
program is to draw everyone's attention and to orient participants
on civic education, to do discussion, collect suggestions and
acquire commitments to build future strategies in order to highlight
civic education in media. She concluded her remarks by asking
Ms. Babita Basnet to highlight on the objective of the programme.
Highlight on the Programme Objectives
Ms Babita Basnet, President of Sancharika
Samuha stated that the programme basically aims to shift journalism
towards citizen journalism from politically centered journalism.
Civic education would make the women journalists even more professional.
According to her, the situation of women journalists in media
is such that the pace of women joining and leaving the profession
is quite frequent. Therefore, the workshop like today plays
an important role in preventing women journalists from abandoning
the job. She furthered that it is good to see more qualified
women coming into media sector. But the factor to consider is
how long they sustain themselves in the same sector. Stating
this, Ms Basnet said that to sustain in this sector one has
to keep updating on contemporary issues where programme like
today's workshop tends to be important. Finally she opined that
the programme intends to orient the participants on the basic
concepts of civic education, initiate discussion on related
women's issues and incorporate role of media.
Remarks from the Guests
Mr Hari Lamsal, Central Member, FNJ started
his remarks by offering greetings to all the participants, organizers
and other distinguished guests of the programme. He stated that
he has been contributing in his own way to uplift the situation
of women journalists of Nepal. He said that the most important
factor to be considered is women journalists need to unite themselves
to improve their situation. They need to share their problems
and issues among themselves which seem to be lacking at present.
Moreover, they must not limit themselves in women issues. Rather
involve in other hard issues such as politics and current affairs.
Supporting the statement of Mr Lamsal, Mr
D.R. Ghimire, Advisor of FNJ, Rupandehi said that women need
to keep themselves updated with emerging issues including concept
of civic journalism. Likewise, there must be clear understanding
on difference between civic education and civic journalism among
them. Beside, concentrating on women related subject, they should
focus on other issues related to citizen as and when required.
Following this, Mr Deepak Gyawali, Chairperson
FNJ, Rupandehi, shared that the current picture of women in
Nepalese media is discouraging rather than heartening. In order
to motivate them, such kind of training and workshop programmes
are really fruitful and necessary. He furthered that the learning
of workshop has to be converted into action as well.
Mr Pradeep Acharya, Vice Chairperson, Press
Chautari, Rupandehi expressed that Sancharika has been providing
training programmes for enhancing the capability of women journalists
from time to time which has been a real support for women in
media. He also wishes Sancharika to give continuity in this
initiation. He shared that his association too has prioritized
skill enhancement of women journalists. According to him, women
journalists are not less than their male counterparts. Therefore,
they need to be motivated to continue their work in the field
Mr Rudra Hari Kunwar, Secretary of Association
of Revolutionary Journalists furthered that the institutions
should not push women towards the media, rather the willing
women should be given necessary support and encouragement to
enter media. Moreover, the institutions should not direct them
for party journalism. For enhancing the capacity of women journalists,
Sancharika should continue to organize such kind of district
In addition to this, Mr T.P. Bhusal of Press
Union, Rupandehi said that perspective to view women journalists
has been improving. If the state increases facilities, they
shall definitely retain in the field too. With the increment
in means of media, the quantity of women journalists has also
been increasing. But simply increment in quantity is not enough
if there is no sustainability of women journalist in media.
Remarks from the Representative of FES
Initiating the presentation, Mr Chandra Dev
Bhatta, a representative from FES said that in order to educate
citizen through media, such kind of training/workshop programme
is necessary. He stated that journalism is a medium that alerts
all the actors of society including policy makers and general
public. And as media can facilitate in changing even the national
policy, civic education for journalists is essential.
Session II: Workshop Session
Introduction and Sharing of expectations of participants
The session started with an introduction between
and among the participants, the resource persons and management
team. The session was formally conducted with introduction of
participants. The participants were asked to share their understanding
on civic education and what are their expectations from the
workshop. While asking level of understanding and expectation,
a link was created with previous training. This session made
the participants comfortable in proceeding the session ahead.
For most of the participants, the topic was
quite new. They said that they have just heard about civic education
but unknown about what actually it is and what would be its
use in their profession. Few of them said that there is lack
of civic knowledge even in their male counterparts. They expected
that the workshop would help them in going beyond political
issues in their work of journalism. During the session, the
participants were asked to express their understanding on the
subject as per their own knowledge and information. The summary
of which are mentioned below:
- Civic education means to bring out all
- It is a social activity.
- It is an activity of bringing out anti
- It is an act of being informed on citizen
- It is information about one's own responsibilities
to attain rights.
- Everything related to citizen is civic
education. For example, health, education, social environment,
economic environment, gender issue, political environment
and the like.
- An education necessary for a citizen to
move ahead in life is known as civic education.
- The primary education of human life is
- Civic education is a reflection of society.
- Education that gives identity to an individual
is civic education.
- Education that should be given to all uneducated
individuals of society is civic education.
- It is an education that encourages individual
towards their work.
- This is an education that basically changes
society and obsolete belief.
- An education for human development is civic
- It is a human oriented issue.
- An education obtained on various issues
is civic education.
- An education to aware and educate to be
a successful and efficient person is civic education.
- In the globalised world, civic education
is an utmost factor to bring unity, and peace among people
from different parts of the world.
Meanwhile, facilitating the session, Ms Babita
Basnet said that as resource persons, they would try to meet
the expectations of participants. Then she requested Mr Chandra
D. Bhatta for paper presentation.
Paper Presentation: Conceptual clarity about
Civic Education. Initiating the paper, Mr Chandra Dev Bhatta
mainly highlighted on conceptual clarity on civic education,
role of citizen in civic life, media as public sphere, link
between democracy and civic education, connection between media
and democracy, role of media in civic life and source of civic
education. The speaker gave several examples in support of concept
of civic education during his presentation. This made the participants
easily understand the subject. Participants asked for clarifications
as and when required to Mr Bhatta during the session. His paper
is attached in the annex.
Paper Presentation : Civic Education for Women
Ms Babita Basnet
Supporting the statement of Mr Chandra Bhatta,
Babita Basnet said that civic education can be linked with everything
including with our responsibility. As per her opinion:
- Civic education is a part of education
that informs individual about how to make effective participation
in public life of democratic environment.
- It provides necessary knowledge, skill
and makes a person responsible.
- It is an indispensible part of democratic
- It is a long process which creates realization
of responsibility towards nation, society and family. Additionally,
it helps in generating sense of respect for one another.
- It informs about duties and responsibilities
- There are talking on rights rather than
duties and responsibilities in out context.
- Civic education protects and enhances freedom,
therefore, it is associated with democracy.
- Civic education is an ongoing process.
- The main objective of civic education is
to unite the country into a single entity enhancing democracy.
People have their own personal and collective desires which
may be different but the feeling of nationalism is parallel
in all. Civic education aims to make all the citizens responsible
towards their nation by providing this message of nationalism.
- Civic education enhances the courage in
citizen, educates about sacrifice and dedication for nation.
- It creates a thinking of what have I given
to nation rather than thinking what has nation given to me.
- It teaches to be accountable towards the
- Civic education teaches which values and
norms to pursue while performing responsibilities in social
- Besides, it also educates on various issues
such as participation in electoral system for selecting representative
for state formation, political knowledge, respect towards
law, support in national activities, help in gathering necessary
resources, respect the right of others, being informed about
happening incidents, respect human rights, courtesy for all,
responsible towards family and so on.
- It is not necessary to have a formal school
or college for civic education. Various institutions and informal
sectors could initiate civic education.
- There is no age bar. Individuals of any
age could acquire civic education.
- The subject lists and subjective perspective
of civic education may vary from nation to nation. (citizenship,
perspective towards nationality, security sector, foreign
- As per time and situation, the issue could
be varied. For instance, the current issue of CA, self determination
rights, federalism, national census etc.
- All the issues comprising of social, economy,
politics, tradition, gender and region are issues of civic
- During the time of election of CA, substantial
civic education was provided in countries like South Africa,
Fiji, Ethiopia and Uganda.
- Civic education must be attached or is
attached with civic activities.
- Basically, it is associated with common
- There is close connection between democracy
and civic education. This encompasses the sense of responsibility
with the value for rights by respecting each other's necessity.
- Civic education is not an emerging subject.
Long time back in the history of Nepal, King Jay Prithivi
Bahadur Singh of Bajhang had talked about civic education.
He even started a campaign stating that civic education must
be useful in life and help in making earning for life. Beside
this, the King, who is the first editor of Gorkhapatra Daily,
had published book on civic education as per which he is supposed
to be the first writer to write book on the issue of civic
- Furthermore, in the year 2008, Laxmi Prasad
Devkota with an aim to provide civic education, wrote book
which was published by Ratna Book Publication many years later.
Additionally, Ms Basnet briefly highlighted
on challenges of civic education in Nepal that are mentioned
- The prevailing trend of thinking among
people is such that personal benefit dominates common benefit.
- There is dissatisfaction in youth concerning
current situation of nation and politics. Those whoever have
interest in politics, they too are guided by party thoughts.
- There is lack of cooperation.
Open Floor Discussion
After hearing presentation of both the resource
persons, the participants shared that although people are aware
about the issues of civic education, it is very difficult to
covert it into action. It is basically the gap between various
stakeholders of society including difference between the perspective
of reporter and editor towards civic education and difference
in their objective due to which there are obstacles in implementing
civic education in their work. They opined that even in media
sector, the people at decisive level are party oriented. They
are guided by political ideology. Therefore, it is hard to bring
out the issues of civic education.
The participants furthered that the matter
of hierarchy is also an obstacle in implementing or mainstreaming
civic issues in media. According to them, the person at policy
making tends to have limited knowledge about civic education.
Now the question arises which level of media needs to be informed
about the issue. Is it the reporter level or the policy making
level? Even if the reporter level know about the issue, at the
time of publishing or broadcasting the issue, the decision lies
in the hands of policy makers. Therefore, the participants recommended
the organizer to organize similar training/ workshop on civic
education for decision makers in media too. Moreover, the one
who knows about the issue has a tendency to ignore the fact.
At the same time they said that even at executing
level, information on civic education is required. As per the
participants experience, the educated people is more likely
to ignore concern for civic education as compared to uneducated
They suggested that in order to raise awareness
concerning civic education, firstly it is the media that needs
to be trained. Moreover, the participants viewed that unless
the country is strong, people cannot be strong. Therefore, the
country policy needs to be strong at first.
Presentation by Mr Mahendra Bista, Journalist
on Conceptual Clarity on Civic Journalism
Mr Mahendra Bista made paper presentation on civic education
in media highlighting conceptual difference between civic journalism
and citizen journalism, current trend in Nepalese media, the
present requirement and prevailing scenario of civic education
Proceeding the presentation, Mr Bista gave
brief review on concept of civic journalism. According to the
speaker, in general term, civic journalism means journalism
done with attention on civic. Here, the issue of civic is directly
incorporated at the time of reporting. If reporting is done
considering the way the people presents their problem and the
way they resolve it, then the news, feature or report prepared
is called civic journalism.
This type of journalism is practiced in various
countries. Moreover, its practice is increasing in developing
countries along with developed countries like USA and UK.
The speaker opined that civic journalism is
also a participatory journalism. Few perceive it as common journalism.
It can also be called a public journalism. It also comprises
of development journalism and rural journalism. It is known
as democratic journalism too. As the basis of democracy is people,
the basis of civic journalism is also people. As democracy sees
the role of people as indispensible factor in policy making
and implementation process, civic journalism too recognizes
importance of people participation beside subject of news at
the time of making news. Correlating people with democracy and
driving democracy towards people is the task of journalism.
But since professional journalism could not conduct this task,
the necessity of civic journalism has emerged.
Highlighting on the difference between civic
journalism and citizen journalism, Mr Bista said that there
is always a query regarding difference between civic journalism
and citizen journalism. As the same word Nagarik Patrakarita
is used to denote both types of journalism in Nepali, there
is always confusion between the two. As per the subject matter,
there are many similarities between the two. But, there are
some fundamental differences between them. The major difference
is that there is involvement of professional journalist in the
process of information and news collection, reporting, analysis,
writing and presentation in civic journalism. On the other hand,
in citizen journalism, there is involvement of individual oneself
in entire process of developing news. As such, citizen journalism
is known as voice of citizen as well.
Yet another difference between civic journalism
and citizen journalism is civic journalism is practiced by professional
journalists in mainstream media whereas citizen journalism is
practised in alternative media.
Furthermore, the presentation also talked
about present situation of journalism in Nepalese media. The
speaker sited that although media is considered to be the voice
of voiceless, a watchdog and reflection of society. Has it been
really doing this function or not? The speaker has a doubt whether
journalism has become an obstacle for change or unable to raise
the voice of voiceless. He requested all the participants to
analyze their own activities from civic perspective and recognize
whether they have really been the watchdog of society or voice
of voiceless. As such civic journalism teaches to ask this question
Talking about the current trend, the speaker
said that there has been a drastic shift in medium and technology
in media sector at present. Along with print media, there has
been drastic shift in radio, television and digital medium.
Not only in the key board of a computer set, the entire world
could be reached even in mobile screen today. The quantity,
outreach and effect of media have increased too. At the same
time, the number of journalists has also increased. There is
fame as well as livelihood in the field of media. There is an
attraction of investment as well. However, there is no space
for satisfaction in the trend of news yet.
He furthered that if we are to analyze the
current trend of editorial policy, it is crime and entertainment
oriented rather than issue of public interest. As a result media's
credibility has been reducing. The power isweakening. The effect
has become pathetic. It has been unable to touch human emotion.
The speaker also talked about the current
scenario in short. Proceeding the presentation, he said that
at present we are in a democratic situation where people have
brought great change in the nation. The nation is in a state
of transformation. The peace process is going on. Besides, the
country is undergoing constitution making process. We are now
waiting for the final output. But there are some unanswerable
questions such as when, who and how the output is to be generated.
In a democratic state, there is right to information for all
individuals. There is press freedom as well as freedom of expression.
And there is a hope that these issues will be well mentioned
in new constitution. But even if it is incorporated in constitution
and not implemented in right approach for right reason for right
output, it is meaningless.
The meaning of freedom in democracy is not
the right to do anything. Along with rights, there is duty.
Today, when we are talking so much about our rights, are we
really accomplishing our duties effectively? Civic journalism
has emerged to make us think this part.
In the meantime, in addition to the statements
of Mr Bista, the participants shared that regarding current
trend in the field of journalism there are few challenges for
reporters while making news. They opined that the major challenge
at present is the problem of corruption. Others include problem
of skepticism in regard to capacity of reporters, fear of facing
embarrassment from coworkers. Another major challenge is threatening
to media professionals after reporting. They added that lack
of proper rules in the field of media is one of the reasons
for making media insensitive.
In support of participants, Mr Bista said
that sometimes media persons have to play the role of activist
in due course of performing their duties. They must have humanitarian
feeling while compiling news and reflect that feeling in their
reporting. This would not make media insensitive any more. According
to him, media is a tool for social justice with its own challenges;
therefore, it must be used in the most effective manner.
Mr Bista also enlightened on current need
of Nepalese media. According to him, responsible journalism
is a necessity of today which is possible through civic journalism.
Actually, civic journalism is not just the new beginning of
journalism but a separate idea and step established with development
in journalism. It not only treats journalism as a means to present
news, incidents and reality, but teaches how to be accountable
towards the people. Civic journalism strengthens individual
and community. It helps the helpless. It helps in uplifting
the marginalized sector of society.
Civic journalism enhances the awareness among
general public. It is a campaign for change. It helps in involving
people in policy making and implementation phase. It is innovative.
It provides the feeling of accomplishment as well as source
Finally, Babita Basnet announced the closing
of the Day I programme by thanking all the speakers for delivering
their wonderful remarks, participants for making active participation
and representatives from FES for supporting in conducting the
Brief Review of Day I Activities
The session of second day started with reporting
of whatever the participants learned on the previous day. These
participants reported about their conceptual clarity on civic
education and the importance of role of media in this concern.
The session illustrated various examples on the subject that
civic education is vital for local level as well as central
level and it is also an international issue.
On the basis of previous day class, the participants
were given one common question to answer and make individual
presentation of it. They were asked whether civic education
is necessary or not. If yes, what would be their initiation
in mainstreaming it? The participants were given few times to
reply this question. Then various responses came out.
As a reply to the first question, the answer
was same, i.e. civic education is necessary. The responses to
the second question were as mentioned below:
As a response to the question, the participants
conveyed that even a small article related to civic education
without violating feeling of anybody could be an initiation
to mainstream civic education in media. They supported that
civic education is necessary and possible too because whatever
news or article they have developed till date, all are human
oriented in some way or the other. So information on civic education
could be disseminated through media. As per the paper presentation
from resource persons of Day I, participants also said that
since media is a reflection of society or voice of voiceless,
it is a means through with civic voice reach to desired target
group. The voice of citizen could be raised through radio programmes,
incidents could be developed in news format, feature articles
could be created and so on. According to them, at present media
is dominated by political issues due to which people are not
getting anything novel. In such situation civic journalism or
citizen journalism cold be the solution. They furthered that
such kind of training needs to be provided to policy makers
as well for mainstreaming civic education.
The participants shared that civic education
could be expressed through reports, vox pop, interview and feature.
Civic journalism or citizen journalism could be incorporated
in entertainment programmes as well. They opined that civic
journalism is utmost in present context. Everyone is in favor
of this. But, still the social issues are taken lightly and
priority is given to political affairs. As a result, local or
social news are always on shadow. The resolution to it is civic
education. On the other hand, few participants shared their
experience that the preference of audience is also the political
issues rather than social affairs. Since, media houses have
to sell their papers; they produce what is in demand. As such,
media is dominated by political affairs. The participants expressed
that the challenges attached to civic education could be reduced
through media intervention by massively generating awareness
Presentation and Discussion Session
After hearing the responses of participants,
Ms Babita Basnet said that there is one factor related to news
delivery. She shared that there are various cases on how the
audience view the information they confront. It is not necessary
that the news delivered is understood in same manner by the
receiver as the news developer wants or expects. There could
be deviation in the perception of news between sender and receiver.
Therefore, one has to be careful in this regard too.
In addition to this, Mr Bista said that whatever
news we develop, all are related to civic in some way or the
other. But the thing that is important is to justify that it
is civic oriented. Civic journalism is beyond an expression
of news collected.
As a concluding remark, Mr Bista shared that
there are ones' own possible approaches in practicing journalism.
The trend varies with the means of media. The subject matter
and priority may vary with nation, time and situation. On the
other hand, practices and viewpoints may even be common.
As per his presentation, there are few recommendations
in regard to civic journalism as below:
- Understand one's community and civic life
well and reflect it as subject of news.
- Prioritize subject instead of incident.
Focus the effect of information and fact instead of quantity.
- While selecting subject matter, focus on
whether it is change oriented and socially effective.
- Use critical perspective in reporting without
using anti social terminologies.
- Listen to the problems and their resolution
by citizens and covert them into report or news as they are.
- Generate public awareness concerning civic
- Prioritize public interest while reporting
on developmental and business issues.
- Not only conflict but also the torture
and possibility along with conformity to be incorporated while
- Journalist to act as a part of society
and representative of it.
- Always keep the discussion open. Rather
than increasing disparity, go for the resolution.
- Guide journalism by new norms and thoughts
rather than obsolete values.
- Adopt bottom up and diagonal approach.
Finally, Babita Basnet announced the closing
of the Day II activities and the training programme by thanking
all the participants for making active participation and representatives
from FES for supporting in conducting the programme. She opined
this programme is just an opening on discussion on civic education
and will be continued in future days as the issue raised is
a crucial one and expects to receive such kind of positive response
from everybody in future too.
According to the speaker, it is necessary
to concur role and responsibilities by all and work together
for the issue. The speaker noted that issues of civic education
need to be addressed at all level i.e. family, societal, national
and civil society organizations, government and all stakeholders
should join hands in the movement for civic education. Thus,
she urged the participants to work jointly to promote the issue.
Lastly, Ms Basnet remarked that she has hopes that the programme
has motivated the participants enough to work in mainstreaming
civic education in media.
The workshop was highly appreciated by all
and there was huge media coverage. All the local television
channels of Rupandehi including Radio Lumbini covered the brief
news on the programme. Also the local radio and FMs including
Radio Lumbini, Rupandehi FM, Siddhartha FM, Radio Mukti, Jagaran
FM, Radio Namaste and Tinau FM gave brief news on the programme.
Apart from the electronic media, the local daily newspapers
including Naya Bhawana, Lumbini Today, Rajdhani Daily and Butwal
Today have covered the news of the programme. The paper clippings
of the coverage are attached in the annex. It is expected that
the media will further write and produce more features, case
studies and programs in both print and electronic media.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The programme was highly appreciated by all
the participants. They expressed their happiness in getting
opportunity to participate in the workshop and showed their
commitment to write on civic issues. They provided the organizing
committee with few suggestions and recommendations:
- Training Days should be increased.
- Training should be organized in other parts
of the country too.
- Training should be provided not only to
women journalists but their male counterparts too.
- Women journalists should be provided with
feature writing training to enhance their capability.