Unique assessment of Nepal’s media landscape presented to media professionals
The preliminary results of the assessment of Nepal’s media landscape, based on UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators (MDI), were presented to media professionals on 18 October 2011 in Lalitpur during the National MDI Conference. The assessment is the first of its kind in Nepal and it is being conducted by the Nepal Press Institute and Management Innovation, Training and Research Academy, with support from the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu.
The Conference, attended by almost 100 media professionals, was organized to seek feedback and comments on preliminary findings from media stakeholders in order to finalize the assessment, which is planned to be published in the coming months. Participants confirmed the preliminary findings of the assessment which revealed a complex set of challenges facing Nepal’s media sector.
According to media professionals at the Conference, there is an urgent need to review and revise the legal frameworks, especially for the fast changing Internet landscape and the public service broadcasting sector. “Existing media laws need to be implemented and reinforced, and exemption from punishment for those who commit harmful acts against working journalists needs to be ended,” delegates said.
The media must strengthen its self-regulation and raise self-awareness of media ethics. Participants also confirmed the essential role of community media outlets in Nepal.
According to delegates, the training of journalists is another critical challenge facing the profession. They collectively agreed with the preliminary findings of the assessment that there is an obvious lack of basic training in the journalism industry in Nepal, and also in the re-training of working journalists. “There are many institutions that offer journalism training, but no mechanism is in place to monitor the quality of the training,” they said.
According to Tanka Dulal, a member of the research team, the situation is particularly challenging in the districts outside Kathmandu, where only basic training is available. “Journalists need training both in basic journalism skills and specialized issues such as human rights and democracy.”
Nepal is one of the first countries in the region to engage in systematically assessing its media landscape. “The results of our work will be of interest not only here, in Nepal, but also internationally,” said Axel Plathe, Head of the UNESCO Kathmandu Office. “I believe there are many countries that will look at Nepal in the coming years, when they engage in a similar assessment process.”
The assessment is based on UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators. The indicators provide a comprehensive framework for evaluating the media landscape and approaching policy issues of any country. They cover five areas:
- System of regulation and control;
- Pluralism and diversity of the media;
- The media as a platform for democratic discourse;
- Professional capacity; and
- Infrastructural capacity.