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Mohan Nepali: Media Mindset Matters

Media Mindset Matters


The Mass Media in Nepal’s Peace Process

by Mohan Nepali, Kathmandu

Media provides a platform for advocacy of changes in various fields. Media professionals strongly side with people’s individual freedom and other human rights. This has been a customary practice to do so. Indeed, media are not only platforms for others but also political and socio-economic forces on their own because they are manned by representative people with varieties of backgrounds. The environment existing in a country’s mass media reflects the country itself.

The environment existing in Nepali mass media definitely reflects Nepal. The improvement at top state level will help to improve the media sector as well. Due to the complicated nature of interrelationship between political leaderships and the mass media, both of them cannot get transformed without each other’s positive and transformative role. In fact, their role should be of an inter-transformative nature because both political structures and media structures are inseparably linked.

While all forces are talking about restructuring Nepal and the institutions within the country, media sector alone cannot remain an exception. The mass media are critical and analytical forces. They are political, socio-economic and legal beings. In the process of the overall transformation of the Nepali society, the mass media have to analyze and criticize themselves. They, if need be, should redefine and re-discover themselves to prove that they are the Fourth Estate in a real sense. Apart from being objective and detached news reporters, they are very powerful agenda-setters and taste-builders. This is why some even like to understand the mass media as the principal agents of change because they can reorient people to new changes. Therefore, it would not be irrelevant to seek a more transformative role of the Nepali mass media in terms of the people’s verdict for vast changes expressed in the April uprising in 2006.

Although both the political manipulation of the mass media and the media manipulation of politics are realistically imaginable, sincere efforts should always be made to minimize the misuse of media power. Any misuse of media power does not but contribute to the exacerbation of multiple conflicts in the country. In this context, news angles may be worth examining for media researchers. The mass media are the most progressive forces always expected in favor of inclusive democracy. This is a general assumption. As the name itself suggests, the mass media necessarily have to be responsible to the majority of grassroot people. Therefore, the subtle presentation of news, especially on political phenomena, can be an area of study for media scholars.

In journalistic writing, opinion writing cannot be fictionalized despite the undeniability of the use of some aesthetic elements in it. Fictional styles but not fictional contents are welcome in opinion writing, which cannot be isolated from the available facts and the ground realities. Escaping ground realities does not enrich one’s opinion writing. Should it be realized, understanding the mass media in an absolutist sense should be avoided. They deserve analysis and objective characterization in a relative manner.

As stated above, the mass media are the prototypes of human actors. They carry human traits. Strengths and weaknesses are the regular components to consider for betterment. The mindset of the mass media definitely refers to the mindset of those who run them. Completely ignoring it while facilitating the discourse of state restructuring may not sound so just because the mass media are one of the vital organs of the state. Therefore, encouraging the media discourse regarding the restructuring of media mindset appears important as regards to the encouragement of the public discourse on state restructuring.

No matter who runs the mass media, the media responsibility is ethically founded on public interests that also are the basis of media sustainability. The economic viability of the mass media is something related to the best contribution to people’s wellbeing as a whole. In this context, the development of our mass media both as a distinguished industry and public institution is a tremendous challenge. In today’s interdependent world, the mass media cannot be differentiated from the Cold War mindset without ending the ideological intolerance existing among us in different forms. Pluralism and inclusiveness cannot be promoted without boycotting ideological intolerance. The fusion of ideological ideals can give better visions. This is what should be considered while thinking of the restructuring of media mindset.

What is vital in the context of Nepal’s conflict transformation is to be precautious so the mass media will not be used as propaganda weapons because even unintentional propaganda war may re-propel the country to armed conflicts. To make Nepal’s peace process fruitful, it is highly significant to make sure the mass media are not being misused as a revenge weapon.

*************

Lecturer, Mass Communication and Journalism

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