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Role of Press Union in Highlighting Working Journalists' Issues'

A national seminar jointly organized by Nepal Press Union (NPU) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

10 June 2012, Hetauda

By Chandra Shekhar Adhikari
Annapurna Post Daily

Nepal Press Union (NPU) along with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office has organised a workshop on the 'Role of Press Union in Highlighting Working Journalists' Issues' in Hetauda on 10 June, 2012. There were about a hundred of participants, mostly the journalists from mainstream and vernacular media representing newspapers, Television and radios. We all discussed on the issue of journalists more than five hours continuously. The main objective of the program was to share the problem of journalists in district level who are always facing the financial crunch. We continued the discussion till the end of the session with the enthusiasm of all participants and political leaders. Ultimately, all of them spent their full time in the program with their patience and curiosity on the burning issue.

The chief guest of this programme was Gagan Thapa, Young Leader, Central Committee member of Nepali Congress Party. Deena Upadhyaya, NC central committee member, The Programme was chaired by Ram Mani Neupane, Zone coordinator of NPU, Kiran Kumar Pokhrel President of Nepal Press Union (NPU). Dev Raj Dahal, Head FES Nepal Office, Kashiraj Dahal, constitution expert, Dharmendra Jha -Former President of Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Shiva Lamshal General Secretary of NPU, Ishwari Ojha Treasurer of NPU also raised their voice on media issues in the Programme.

Speaking in the programme, Nepali Congress leader Thapa said that press union played a crucial role since the beginning and requested that it should now work towards the formation of inclusive politics that upholds norms of social justice. He also commented on the current political situation and said that Maoists have come as a major obstacle for the current political impasse in the country. No free media in the absence of democracy, however, media should do lobby for democracy. The present government of Nepal is almost spoilt in the sense of democracy. Democracy is a process it should go on forever. He also emphasized that the measurement of the democracy should be done my mass media. Media should not be biased and it should not be affiliated to any political parties. It is seen in the present situation that some of the media houses are indirectly invested by some big political parties. Nevertheless, it should not be in the reality. The number of unions like Press Union should raise voice against in such activities.

The investors of number of media houses are getting profit day by day; however, on the other hand the media workers have the feelings of two months in a year. They are getting their wedges twice in a year in an installment. The investors invest money in several other business what they get profit from the media houses but they do not have the feeling of providing the salary of the workers on time. He also focused that, not only in the media house, but in every sector, such situation can be created if there is no state actor, rather there are more agents. Behind all these, the role of political parties is a must. Media houses should not show their investments to the state with the direct influence of major political parties to the media houses. He shred his own experience in the program that he used to work in a media house without getting salary on time. Nonetheless, he always raised his voice against such system.

Another guest of the program, Deena Upadhya, central committee member of Nepali Congress, also focused on the situation of media house. In the situation of lobbying media houses by some political parties, the role of them should be important to make the media house unbiased. The role of media workers is not only the jobholders, but are also the mirror of the society. For that reason, they should not be behaved like a mechine, but must be treated as a human being. And, they should have chance to live their life in the society in a reputed way while getting their wedges on time. According to her, the role of media house is also vital to the state. The part of strikes and protests on the road on unnecessary demands of different political parties should not get proper place in the media house. It is all because of unhealthy competition within the media house. Such trend should be ignored. She further added that, the program organized by Press Union in some districts is admirable. It has challenged to other Unions/organizations giving importance only to Kathmandu Valley.

Constitution Expert, Kashi Raj Dahal had also almost the same voice like previous speakers in the program. Right to information can be implemented only in democracy. The situation of the country or its destination can be determined only with the discussions in democracy. He also said that the condition of right to information is also in challenge. The reason behind these is not implementing democracy properly. Improvement of weakness of Loktantra has no alternative. Democracy should run in law and order. The bad concept of political parties of taking themselves in upper level than law and order has made the situation pathetic in the present time.

FES Director, Dev Raj Dahal started his speech saying that democracy is possible if there is social justice in the society. FES has been working in social justice, peace and democracy since its establishment. With the cooperation of unions like NPU, FES has been working for democracy, right to information and trade unionism. Nepal is 8 years oldest country than United States. US is the topmost country in the world, however, Nepal is still struggling for the establishment of development. We could not stick on law and order so that we always have to see back. The country can be guided by major 4 elements, stick on punishment by the state sincerity of the people, rights of tax by the state and utilization of international norms and values. We are heading towards failure state in the absence of those 4 elements. The policy, rule, regulation and systems are directed by foreigners. The reason of failure leading policy of Nepali political leaders, we are facing the present situation. The above mentioned 4 elements have no balance at all in Nepal. Only the role of media houses can balance these 4 elements. I believe, such seminars can focus on these issues properly.

Dharmendra Jha, former president of FNJ said that press freedom is possible only in democracy. This concept should be in the mind of all journalists. This issue has become the major discussions within journalists, knowingly and unknowingly. In the present situation, this issue is important too. Maulik rights and democracy have been directly hit from the side of state and political parties in the present situation. Censorship by the present government in the media house picturizes very clearly about the bad intention of the government. Recently, the present government sent a letter to Image Channel for the censorship of news. That's the main reason to be united by the journalists like us who believe in democracy. And, we have to fight against such system. Modern nationalism is a constitutional nationalism. Only the democratic journalists can go through constitutional nationalism. Media house must be independent and it should not be guided by any other forces. However, the media house might pay an advance payment to open the media house according to the new system of the present government. Jha further added that media house is not for the business, rather for it resembles the society. Though, the intention of media house is to work as a mediator in the society, it can't provide the workers without their wedges on time. Nepal Press Union a strong union which can raise voice against these issues. Requesting to all journalists, Jha added a point that, journalism is not the job rather the journalists should have the habit of reading and get more information on different issues in the society.

As Jha added more, the state has to sincerely implement Working Journalists Act 2007 and Right to Information Act 2007. And, the state must be responsible to provide labor market information to the journalists. Familiarization of workers with various ideas and issues provides them a greater measure of free will and self-confidence and enable them to use their own political choice that should not be reflected while writing. Democratic politics is not only about the self- assertion of politicians for power but about seeking a common good where workers are not excluded. Democracy seeks to maximize the greatest happiness of greatest number of society's members. Therefore, to address the issues of media workers, there is the necessity of umbrella organization of Trade unions which is not done yet by NFJ and NPU both.

Babita Basnet senior women Journalist agreed upon the paper presented by Jha. According to her, journalists must be strengthened to ensure rights of the people. She remarked that the trade union is highly politicized, party-oriented and media is action oriented as a result the genuine issues of workers are always sidelined. Workers have been merely used and abused by the trade union leaders and leaders of the political parties.

Shiva Lamsal, General Secretary of NPU also pointed out that economic activities in the country are shrinking and there has been too much focus on politics over the years. As a result the state has failed to create new jobs. In this situation, democratic journalists should cooperate with democratic leaders. He raised this issue in the sense that without democracy, journalism can not be completed.

From the floor discussion, Rajan Dahal, journalist, Radio Makwanpur put a different issue in the program. He mentioned that the journalists do not have such umbrella organizations to address the journalists' real issues. He has requested to all the journalists to rethink about on this issue. Local journalists, Mani Raj Gautam focused his view especially towards media house. The number of media houses is not able to pay the payment to the media workers on time in the present scenario. His opinion was based on this issue. The nature of hire and fire situation within media house, itself is not good to the media workers. The owner of the media houses are getting profit day by day, however , on the other hand, they do not have enough money to pay to the media workers, this is a bitter reality of most of the media houses, he further added.

Local correspondent, Girija Adhikari, Rabindra Singh, Anil Tiwari and many others also highlighted the issue of working journalists. Providing the contract written of minimum wedges to the media workers, rather the reality is different. The workers are compelled to work in very low salary though they are committed by the media house to provide more than 10,000.00 per month. Nevertheless, they agreed upon the reality that the main reason behind such situation is the role of media workers themselves. On the other hand, all of them less focused on the issue of Trade Union in policy making sector. They pointed out leadership problem in the trade union that is another issue, needs to be sorted out in coming days. There should be intellectual people in the leadership level rather not only the representative of workers, who continuously lead the trade union for a long time.

Chandra Shekhar Adhikari, journalist of Annapurna Post Daily has also agreed upon the issues raised by all the participants. He opines his view in this way that, the journalists should be strong enough to make their value in the market by themselves. They must have the capacity to understand the issues so that they can present the news properly in the society. There are still very few journalists in our country who are well known in the society. Media people have a problem ownself we all are loyal or biose. That impact to our reporting so we have to improve our quality also.

NPU president Kiran Pokharel said that journalists are mirror of the society so that they are always more responsible. Nevertheless, the issues raised in the program should be addressed and implemented in our real life. And, the government should have the positive role for the media development. He further thanked all the participants and inaugural session comes to an end.

Ram Mani Dahal, coordinator of Narayani Zone, NPU concluded the program. Five hours continued discussions about all issues of media workers with the political parties' leaders have been fruitful. He hoped that the isssues raised in the whole program can be judged by all the journalists.


The present situation of the media houses have been seen biased in different political parties. This is a fearful matter in itself, because the media house should be loyal to the public. Politically guided journalists can not be the real mirror of the society and they can not address the issues properly. Somehow, the issues of media house are linked with trade union too. Media should have capacity to highlight the issues trade unions. Media can play an important role to make democracy for everybody by reaching to even the passive and isolated workers and peasants. And, it can also energize them to participate on the production of collective welfare. The ultimate goal of this is program is to focus on the issue of trade union. The process of being professional in the journalism field in the context of Nepal is growing up gradually. However, some of the journalists are not still presented as social mirror in the society. The reason behind this is also the weakness of journalists and trade union, itself. This issue should be highlighted and prioritized in future.

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