Jhe Himal Media Mela 2022 continued on Saturday after the keynote speech by NDTV India Group Editor Ravish Kumar.
The one-day conference of Nepalese media professors, researchers and other stakeholders involved four panels in which speakers including members of the press had a broad conversation about the media industry and its narrative changing.
The first panel on elections, fake news and media literacy featured Ramkrishna Regmi, Sama Thapa and Salokya in a discussion on how fake news and disinformation can influence elections as Nepal counts down to local elections next week.
“The mainstream is driven by social media, which works with unprocessed content,” said Ramkrishna Regmi. “This has led to the omission of important questions around events, including elections, in turn devaluing the importance of local polls.”
AP1’s Sama Thapa added, “Misinformation is not just fabricated information, it is also willful ignorance and disproportionate coverage, even half-information that only focuses on certain people, communities and ethnicities.” .
During the second panel on ethical and responsible journalism, editors and journalists from print, online and broadcast media discussed the responsibilities and roles of journalism in the age of unfiltered digital and social media.
“Democracy is a behavior as much as a way of life,” said Yuvraj Ghimire of Desh Sanchar. “But Nepalese politics lack accountability and our media reflect that.”
“Unless political parties are responsible, how can we expect the media to be? continued Prateek Pradhan from Setopati. “But that’s no excuse for those of us in this profession.”
“As a profession that informs others, the media must be informed themselves. And for that, we need character and courage,” Ghimire noted.
“Credible and truthful information should be celebrated and supported by the public,” Pradhan said.
Prateek Pradhan chastised those he described as being in the profession to possibly obtain high profile political, diplomatic and other positions.
He said: “Journalism requires passion and the belief that the work and the stories will impact those who see it.
Meanwhile, journalist Sona Khatik, station manager of Radio Kapilvastu where she has worked for more than a decade, spoke about the sustainability of radio in Nepal as the media goes digital.
“Radio is not and never has been for those in the upper echelons of Nepalese society. It’s up to people who still don’t have access to proper networks to have conversations, data connectivity for mobile internet, money to buy and watch TV and the channels that represent their communities,” she says. “It’s for those who are unable to read and understand newspapers or access them in time. The radio will support.
If the media itself does not make room for Dalits, Madhesi and marginalized people, then how are they going to represent these communities, Khatik asked. “Even then, you have to understand that it takes work to understand someone’s story, not an hour-long phone conversation for a report.”
On the third panel of the day, Tomorrow’s Journalism, panelists Madhu Acharya, Arun Karki and Sahina Shrestha discussed how journalism is currently dominated by reader trust in social media and the need to integrate data into news.
Madhu Acharya from the ShareCast initiative shared the results of the Nepal Media Survey 2022 which reflects the growing importance of digital platforms in Nepal as the country becomes more connected through mobile networks and internet data. Indeed, the survey revealed that 41% of the more than 5,000 respondents received their local news via Facebook, while the percentage of people who received their news from radio, television and newspapers stood at 25%. , 4% and 2% respectively.
“Social media dominates information as well as opinion formation,” Acharya said, “traditional media needs to catch up.”
“What does it mean when we say readers trust Facebook? It means they trust their friends and family, in short, readers believe readers, and our newsrooms should reflect that,” added Sahina Shrestha, online editor of Nepali time. “That’s why we need to involve the public in content curation.”
Arun Karki from the Center for Data Journalism spoke about the challenges of data storytelling, the role of data in debunking misleading information, and the need for data literacy in Nepal, which he said should be a basic requirement in newsrooms.
“It takes time to produce quality journalism, and we neglect these time-consuming stories in favor of quick news,” Karki explained. “Newsrooms in Nepal must be ready to create real-time data journalism.”
Shrestha also spoke about the responsibility of the Nepalese press to verify the facts themselves. “Fact-checking should not be limited to fact-checking institutions, they should be brought into the newsroom,” she said. “We should verify our own information.”
During the fourth panel, on the political economy of media, Ameet Dhakal, Aarti Chataut, Sudheer Sharma—prominent editors of Nepal’s traditional and digital media spaces—discussed how the Nepalese media is coping with the digital transition.
Sudheer Sharma, editor of e-Kantipur, said that although digital media has reached the masses, print remains on the bureaucratic and policy-making agenda.
“Amidst a changing media landscape, Nepal is on the path to an integrated media.” Sharma said.
“There is a paradigm shift underway in the media, the means are changing, not the content or the format”, continued Aarti Chataut. “The seer is the message.”
“Digital media is a two-way traffic between content creators and readers,” said Setopati’s Ameet Dhakal, adding that it has democratized the content creation process.
“Now a media institution is no longer in control of the narrative, which has also kept the press in check,” Dhakal added. “Our mistakes are magnified, but that also means our corrections are quick.”