Hostility towards media continues even as cases of press freedom violations decline in 2021 – myRepublica

KATMANDU, January 1: Even though incidents of press freedom violations decreased in 2021 compared to previous years, hostility towards the media and journalists has not decreased in Nepal. According to a report published by Freedom Forum, a total of 59 incidents of press freedom violations were recorded in 2021, which directly affected 83 media individuals.

The report states that the highest number of press freedom violations was recorded in Bagmati province with a total of 29 cases, followed by province 2 and Karnali province with 7 cases each. The fewest incidents were recorded in Gandaki (4) and in the province of Sudurpaschim (4) and province 1 with only 2 cases.

As the country holds three-tier elections within a year, media misuse and intimidation of journalists will erode media credibility and undermine democratic culture. According to the report, various forms of violation of press freedom such as misconduct, attacks, threats, obstruction and arrests were recorded in the country, in which 20 journalists were confronted with misconduct, followed by attacks ( abuse) against 20 journalists. Even legal action was taken against one journalist, while seven journalists were arrested.

Likewise, it is mentioned in the report that 40 media people, who were associated with online media, were affected by the violation of press freedom. It was attended by 16 and 13 journalists associated with radio and print media, respectively. The smallest number of journalists in total belong to other categories and TV media facing seven violations each.

According to the data, more than 40 percent of violations target online media. This reflects the gradual shift of media professionals from print or other traditional media to online media. The number of online media in Nepal has reached 3,000, according to data from the Nepalese Press Council. The prosperity of online media can also be attributed to the impact of COVID-19.

The report also suggests that more professional and improved media practice is needed in the future to push back against media discredit with a possible campaign of political disinformation and fake news in the run-up to the elections.

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