By Yug Bahadur
I have been in the media sector for a long, long time, more time than I care to remember. Initially I started with some small weekly newspapers then gradually I joined bigger organizations and sometimes I was so busy I had to edit five newspapers per week. In fact even in the People’s Review I have been contributing articles for more than twenty three years.
During our time there were few openings for journalists, specially for those who wrote in English, and to get a job where you were really paid was almost like a dream. But I got my chance when a former teacher who had taught me journalism, got me into a reputed organization where if nothing, at least the monthly pay was guaranteed. The place where I worked before this, the pay could come after three months or so and that was also very meager.
I think this was the situation of journalists at that time, when only print media existed and the weeklies were run virtually by one man and some of his relatives. Almost all editors were affiliated to one party or the other, exactly like now, but like I have said in this column a lot of times things changed for the better after the political change in 1990 and individuals started investing in a serious manner in the media sector.
Some individual tried to expedite this process at the behest of foreigners and this we can see by the dollars accumulated by some so called renowned journalists and also by the blessings being received by others who virtually fall at the feet of foreigners, be it Indians or Westerners. All the Commission for Abuse of Authority has to do is ask for these individual’s source of income, specially in foreign currency and kept in foreign banks. After all this is done all over the world.
The Chinese have also learnt of such a strategy in influencing journalists and these days one sees many groups being taken on free trips to China. I don’t hesitate to admit I have also been on such a trip where they keep you in five star hotels and give you lavish food, but at that time I was merely a “retired” journalist and I was a member of a group from the Editor’s Society.
Still, I never hesitate to say confidently that I am one of the few real “free journalists” who has never belonged to any party and I am like I was before. I fly and write freely. I must thank Pushpa Raj Pradhan for giving me this sort of editorial freedom, which does not exist in the so called “mainstream media”.
I knew a person who was the feature editor in an English daily which still exists. This person had painstakingly written the editorial of the paper, but to his surprise when he saw the paper the next day there was a completely different editorial that had been written in New Delhi! But maybe because of personal problems he accepted such humiliation and continued to work there.
I myself received several offers from this newspaper to be its editor and there were dozens of calls made to me. I was offered a very attractive salary and good perks as well, but I refused, as I did not want to be under the thumbs of one foreigner or the other.
One notorious media network, which controls virtually all the media in the print, broadcast and online sectors also offered me a job. I declined very politely but still I did not hesitate to take a slug of whisky which was offered to me early at ten in the morning.
Like a coloured man told his boss when he met him at a street after slavery was freed in the then America, “I feel somewhat loose and comfortable, though I may not have good lodgings or food”, I feel the same way.
Freedom is not like that as described by various media organizations in the country, including the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, the so called umbrella organization of all media people in this nation. For a real professional journalist, it is virtually impossible to get anywhere in this organization which is spread throughout the nation. You have to be a member of one party or the other. In Nepal right now the three big parties, namely the Nepali Congress, the CPN (UML) or the Maoists.
It is no different in the United States which is called the oldest democracy, you either have to be a Republican or a Democratic to be the president. Independents have no chance.
Donald Trump, a land-broker became the president because he hung on to the tails of the Republican Party and also gave donations to it. It is the same in India, called the “largest democracy”, you either have to be in the BJP Party or the Congress (I) to become prime minister. The same applies in many other democratic countries, including the United Kingdom, which have dictatorial attitude? Then why do they preach us about what we should do politically?
But our so called free media parrot exactly what they say, like our politicians and civil society leaders. Is this democracy, freedom of expression or a free media? Let us hope honest people, honest politicians and also independent media persons are recognized and we will not have to go through this foreign puppet show forever.
Like I said in the beginning, I don’t care to remember how long I have been in this sector, but still I would like to pledge to the young journalists who are so active now, not to be too politically oriented or dance to the tunes of foreigners.