More to do

For the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) to celebrate its 54th anniversary means much as far as the duties and responsibilities of the Fourth Estate is concerned. It has been a long journey with more than the necessary vicissitudes along the way. Yet, the performance has to be reckoned with, despite the usual dose of draconian measures unleashed by intolerant regimes. The three-decade period prior to 1990 can be singled out as the darkest for the media. Despite all the suppression and stifling activities from the administration, the journalists did not lose heart and kept aloft their mission to inform the people with fair and impartial information. The struggle has not been without sacrifices from the scribes for whom principles mattered more than anything else. In spite of all the gains made over the years, there are still more miles to cover. This is all because of the fact that the journalists have been the target of those who cannot digest news and views in their unadulterated forms. This is what was seen during the insurgency when sincere journalists were at the receiving end of both the state and the rebels.

With the ushering in of Loktantra and the declaration of the federal republic of Nepal, some signs of improvement are noticeable. However, there have been many instances of the media coming under attack and journalists being murdered, all because of bringing hard facts both in print and in the electronic medium. This has necessitated the struggle by journalists spearheaded by FNJ and other related organizations for ending the impunity that prevails against those who feel that the press is a threat to them. It all calls for press freedom to be institutionalized. But, there are hitches in that the government makes commitment for press freedom, but action finds no place in the overall scheme. This is rather disturbing. Of course, it must be remembered herein that protection and equal treatment of all those affiliated to the media sector, whether journalists or workers, have to be guaranteed without discrimination or favour of any sort. Only a fair play scheme will be able to guarantee press freedom and respect the right to information of the people.

The enormous clout that the media wields is the basic reason that scares the wrongdoers who are always on the look out to muzzle the media persons, even going to the extent of committing culpable homicide. Contrary to all expectations, in a democratic country the criminals are neither hunted nor restricted in their movement with what could

be best called the patronage of the political actors in the government. This is an unfortunate development considering the fact that more mileage should have been notched up during these times. Thus, hurdles are being created for press freedom. But, press freedom can be equated with the freedom of expression and without these in place the country cannot look forward to making the desired national development target a reality. It is agreed that the press reflects the real scenario which scares the defaulters who are at large. With its objective outlined without mincing words, the FNJ, the body of journalist representatives, will be able to counter attacks against journalists and press freedom.