Editorial Independence in Kathmandu: Kicking the Cameraman

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… slandering or unsubstantiated articles do not find any space in our daily. The contributors must prove that what he or she has written is true and is backed by facts. –Puran Bista, The Kathmandu Post

From our standing Google News Alert on “editorial independence,” this interesting interview from Nepal Monitor:

The Kathmandu Post’s leader page editor PURAN PD. BISTA explains the processes, principles and constraints of managing opinion journalism in Nepal.

Q: There are so many issues and problems right now in Nepal that compete for editorial space in a newspaper, especially during these transitional times. Could you explain the means and scope of your editorial content, as they relate to the decision-making process–such as formal editorial policies, political bias, news agenda, publishers’ influence, editorial board, or informal, one-to-one deliberations with the main editor, etc.?

A: We editorialize only relevant issues that have wider social, economic and political implications. Of course, the issues that surface during the peace process are of equal importance. But there are also minor issues that demand editorial attention. Besides, hidden political agendas of a certain group within the party may also need to be editorialized. We also editorialize issues which may not be the major stories of the day. The important thing is, the issue to be editorialized should be credible and authentic. For that, we look into the government plans, policies and the way it handles the problems. Political partisanship, vested interests involved in an issue, cost-benefits and the possible outcomes are other aspects that shape our editorial substance.

We know that every news story is, in one way or the other, is biased. But for us, what matter the most are our national interests. The Kathmandu Post sometimes tends to be an anti-establishment newspaper, but my impression is that it is not always critical of the establishment. We do spotlight positives, too, and have appreciated the government’s constructive moves, plans, policies, etc. towards fulfilling the people’s needs. Our publisher has suggested, however, that such positive occasions are not that common.

Editorial independence is important and we do reject the management’s influence, in the form of subjective articles, views and even suggestions. Editors cannot stay with the publication any longer when differences arise between the editor and the management. Since its inception, the Kathmandu Post has seen four editors join the publication and later quit it.

Nevertheless, we have been given the freedom to select editorial content and articles for the opinion pages. We have even published letters and articles that were critical of our publications or news organization.

We remain aware of our geopolitics, too. China is very sensitive when we carry any news story on Tibet, but we have not dropped any such story. India is a democratic country, so we think it is more tolerant of diverse viewpoints than other South Asian countries.

Read the whole thoughtful interview.


More than half of editors (57%) surveyed by the WEF worry most about business-side pressures as a threat to editorial independence.

From today’s edition of the KP, “Police thrash KTV lensman”:

KATHMANDU, Dec 30 – The police deployed during the students’ protest at Ratna Park today, kicked Shyam Shrestha, a cameraman of the Kantipur Television, when the latter was filming a protestor being beaten by the police.Eyewitnesses said the police besieged the cameraman from two sides and then kicked and beat him with batons. Eyewitnesses also said that the police shouted, “Why did you take pictures of the students being beaten?” and tried to snatch away the scribe’s camera.The protestors criticised the police personnel’s action against the scribes. Gagan Kumar Thapa, general secretary of the Nepal Students Union said, “Our struggle cannot be stopped by suppression.” “From Thursday onwards, we will launch our protests on a larger scale.”

And:

KATHMANDU, Dec 30 – The World Bank Nepal Office today refuted a recent news report putting Kathmandu on the top of the 17 Asian cities with the dirtiest air, saying that the World Bank did not come up with any report like that, and that the fact was “misrepresented” by the press. A senior World Bank official here today said that the Associated Press (AP) report datelined December 18 and filed from Manila, the Philippines, which was carried by several international media, “misrepresented” what was said and presented at a workshop on Better Air Quality.

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