POOR STATE OF THE FOURTH ESTATE

As government aid to newspapers is nominal, most publishers are compelled to receive financial assistance from businessmen, politicians and even foreign agencies to maintain the continuity of their newspapers

By LB THAPA FOR THE ROAMING POST

With restoration of democracy in Nepal, the nation witnessed a quantum leap in the number of newspapers published in the country. And of course, in recent years, the country’s media sector has made spectacular growth in both electronic and printing sectors. A large number of newspapers, magazines, periodicals, journals, FM stations and so forth emerged during the post democracy period.

The new provisions in the constitution have entrusted much freedom to the press. We must accept the fact that progress and development of Nepali journalism after democracy has been positive, healthy and prolific except for some sporadic hitches.

It is believed that, at present, there are nearly 1500 or even more number of newspapers, magazines and periodicals registered across the country. But due to financial hardship and lack of skilled manpower, very few newspapers and magazines are able to maintain regular circulation in the market.

Many newspapers in the country, which are being published by a group of journalists, find the task rather expensive, exhaustive and challenging, since the advertisement market is quite ambiguous, limited and competitive. The result, a score of dailies and weeklies are struggling tooth and nail just to keep their publications alive, forget about profit. Similarly, there are scores of newspapers and journals across the country that have already succumbed to premature closure and many papers will collapse if the government does not make efforts to sustain these journals. In this critical situation, our government must come forward with formidable schemes to rescue the Nepali press; otherwise, it is possible that very soon, many dailies and weeklies will be vanishing from the market forever.

It is believed that currently 300 newspapers are being published on a regular basis in the country. Most of them are not making any profit. It is learnt that there are some dailies and weeklies in the capital which bear 60 to 80 percent loss for publication. Despite financial loss, many new dailies and weeklies are being registered in the capital.

As government aid to newspapers in the country is nominal, most publishers are compelled to receive financial assistance from businessmen, politicians and even foreign agencies to maintain the continuity of their newspapers. A host of newspapers are being published in the country; but to get a clear picture of an event, readers must go through more than one newspaper. Only after reading two or more newspapers can our readers possibly make a conclusion. Thus, most of our newspapers are divided into groups and these groups are again divided into sub groups. It seems there is an open war between rival newspapers. They attack and counter attack each other for securing, or establishing better political image among their lords. Therefore, total objectively in journalism has become rather difficult to come by.

Nepali media has made a gigantic leap since the restoration of democracy; but it still lacks many vital aspects of journalistic spirit.

In recent years, journalism has become an exciting and interesting profession. There is no doubt that it is a noble profession aiming at service for the people through dissemination of news. Its aim is not only to throw a spotlight on social, political and economic evils but also to educate, inform and instruct the general masses. The press helps greatly in the formation of public opinion. In the past, many great men joined this profession because it is a very effective medium for generating public opinion.

Increase in the scope of press in our present day life has also increased its responsibilities manifold. Nowadays, journalism is a highly organized activity. It is a very dynamic profession which moves with time. The work of a journalist has become much varied and so have newspapers. To perform journalistic functions, newspapers must possess a great capacity for infinite work, the power of conveying true picture of news and views to the public in clear and concise language.

The Fourth Estate enjoys a very important place in society and plays a very vital role in a democracy. Press protects ordinary people against the injustice and tyranny of the rulers. It is the upholder of rights and freedoms of the citizens. It is the voice of the people and watchdog of their interest. In fact, the press embodies freedom of speech and expression of citizens. Under the constitution of Nepal, citizens have also been granted the right to freedom which guarantees freedom of speech and expression.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

LB Thapa is a travel blogger. He is also the author of six books. His books have been published by Nirala Publications, New Delhi, India and Himalayan Maphouse, Kathmandu, Nepal. His book, POKHARA AND ANNAPURNAS has been translated into seven foreign languages. LB Thapa’s books are also available on www.amazon.com

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