Media Action Nepal (MAN), a research-based media rights advocacy group, celebrated its 6th anniversary on December 21 with a call to promote free and inclusive media.

Established on December 21, 2015, so far MAN has reached out to more than ten thousand journalists across the country through capacity building, media research, policy discussions, media rights monitoring and documentation, advocacy for independent and accountable media and legal aid to journalists in danger.

In addition to this, more than 500 journalists from other South Asian countries have benefited from MAN's collaborative interventions with organizations including UNESCO, Article19 and the Public Media Alliance.

MAN maintains its network across Nepal with province offices and the province coordinators.

The 6th anniversary was celebrated in Kathmandu on December 21 with a dialogue program on the foundations of independent and inclusive media.

Underscoring that MAN's interventions in the last six years have strengthened the capacity of Nepali media to be more watchful to wrong doings, Laxman Datt Pant, MAN Chairperson stated that the organization has conducted various programs for the benefit of more than ten journalists since its inception. It has provided training and fellowships to more than 700 journalists since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

Adding that MAN is open to collaborate with stakeholders to foster free and accountable media, Pant said it is high time for Nepali media to be accountable towards its content so to maintain the hard-earned media credibility. Journalists should limit their political activities to the right to vote, he urged.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairperson of the National Women Commission Kamala Parajuli, said that the media sector was the carrier of inclusive social and gender transformation and that it should disseminate news in a fair and independent manner. She said that the credibility of the media has been declining in recent times as the media considers politics as its main base. Women journalists have not been able to reach a decisive level in the big media houses in Nepal, she lamented.

Chief Commissioner of the National Information Commission (NIC) pointed out that a handful of journalists are exercising their right to seek information. He said that the media houses had failed to ensure the freedom of press and inclusion guaranteed by the constitution of Nepal.

Appreciating the MAN's dedicated interventions towards free and accountable media, Hanan Godar, Ambassador of Israel to Nepal remarked that media remains a prime ingredient of the discourse for preserving our democracies, democratic inclusion and democratic life. Israel is very proud of what it has achieved in the last 73 years, Ambassador Goder added.

Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Murari Prasad Kharel, said that the state was not seen as liberal in granting freedom of the press even though it was mentioned in the constitution. He also mentioned the need to look into the issue of how the press is tied to digital and physical threats to independent journalism.

Similarly, President of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Bipul Pokhrel, said that Media Action Nepal had succeeded in establishing its identity and thanked the MAN for the work it was doing in the field of press freedom and building an inclusive newsroom. He said that the role of organizations like FNJ and Media Action Nepal would be indispensable to address the issue of press freedom and inclusion.

Adviser to Media Action Nepal Madhav Sharma said that journalists should focus on independent writing as they are the mirror of the society. Senior journalist Dhurba Hari Adhikari said that journalists should not be attracted by other things when it comes to writing news. Stating that journalism and politics should be separated, he said that only independent journalism can bring about social transformation.

Dilrukshi Handunnetti, Executive Director of the Center for Investigative Reporting, Sri Lanka, wished Media Action Nepal a happy sixth anniversary and said that Nepali journalism is more inclusive than journalism in Sri Lanka. She praised the organization's commitment to such work.

The talk program moderated by Priyanka Jha, vice-chairperson of MAN was attended by MAN office bearers, province coordinators, working journalists and media experts. Ganesh Prasad Ghimire, MAN Executive Committee member thanked partners, media and well-wishers for their continued support and collaboration for defending independent media in Nepal and beyond.