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Opinion

Media in a brink of collapse, and a lesson to learn for greater good

An opinion of a media enthusiast who has been observing and learning media world for so long

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Did you know that almost everything that you know are actually taught by media and not schools or colleges? Through school/college, we could only learn specific subjects but it’s the media that teaches us every little things that should matter to us. Imagine a world without media. Our understanding would be very limited. We would not be knowing what our government is doing. We would not be knowing about landfalls, about accidents. We would not be knowing that there is a pandemic going on until it hit us. Media is that important in our life, which is in a brick of collapsing since the pandemic.

Recently, many media from Nepal have laid off their staffs, including journalists, content creators, photographers, and many more, because of whom we were knowing what’s happening around at a comfort of chair. Mainstream magazine like “Nepal” is shut down. Press like Jagadamba is shut down. Newspapers, digital portals, televisions and radio stations across the nation are having to stop print editions or trim pages, downsize staff, cut regular talk shows and programs, and reduce radio broadcast hours. “At a time when the media’s voice needs to be strong to protect press freedom and act as a check and balance in our democracy, the media itself has been weakened by the pandemic,” says media commentator Namrata Sharma via Nepalitimes. Several world-renowned media houses are laying off their staffs. In response to massive job cuts, different world leaders are concerned as “that’s a threat to democracy.” Kedar Bhakta Mathema, former Vice Chancellor of Tribhuvan University and civil society leader shares the similar world view

If the media is in crisis, democracy will be in crisis, the media shines the light on issues in the public interest and keeps the state on its toes, to preserve democracy, we need to protect the media

Kedar bhakta mathema

So, how did media reach to this dire strait?  Answer is, Media sustain on advertisements. Advertisements come from businesses and when economy is down, businesses cut off their marketing budget which means less spending on advertisements, ultimately media feeling the heat, and that’s what is going on worldwide.

Media is probably the only business where consumers don’t pay, call it social media, or print media, or blog. I mean, let’s take this post for example. You are viewing it for free. You are not paying for it. But to create this post, I need to be paid. For this website to be up and running, hosting company needs to be paid. To manage this website, IT team must be paid. There is so much of cost involved just to create a content and take it to you. Somebody has to cover the cost for the wheels to keep rolling and so far, it has always been advertisers and in situation like this, when advertisers can’t pay, media is destined to collapse, as a repercussion, people will be cut off from knowledge and information and news and stuffs and when people are not well informed, it’s a threat to democracy.

Media, despite contributing a lot in making world a better place, are least credited and respected. Maybe, because we don’t value what we get for free. Or, maybe, media is no more what it used to be and there is a reason for that, reason being media have been highly advertisement driven and less people driven. if Covid-19 has anything positive lesson for media, then that is, it is exposing the vulnerability of market-based world that it thrives on. Media unlike other businesses, are founded on nobility with a passion to inform people, educate people, strengthen institution, promote and support needful. How can one take such a big burden and responsibility with absolutely no help or support from anyone but only advertisers?

Media shall now invent different business modalities to not completely rely on advertisers alone. It should find a way to charge it’s audience, it’s readers and followers; should find a way to work closely with interest groups and foundations for it doing the work of informing people, educating and entertaining, so that even when market is down, someone would be paying for the writers, for the photographers, for the content creators, for the reporters and researchers to keep doing their job. Till now, no one is paying because they have been getting for free. Millions of newspapers used to be bought by very same people. It’s not like they can’t pay. But with the rise of Internet, Media turned itself into a race of clicks and views, hammered the very foundation of media business, and now they are licking the wound.

There are some voices asking government to rescue Media, but I would say NO. Media must rescue itself by changing the way it does the business. It shall now be humble enough to go back to audience, ask them to pay for the content in return of quality content, that’s useful, that’s genuine, that truly values their money. Learn to be at least in breakeven from subscription and paid content itself. Best thing about such hybrid modality is that there will be less information pollution, clogging and clouding our digital world, and only good and useful stuffs that should matter to people.

People can pay and will pay, just like good old days, but the greed of earning in billions from advertisers alone by flooding social media and digital world with flashy headlines and crappy contents for sake of views and clicks have gotten media in this brick of collapse. May everyone learn from it.

I have been waiting for the days where media plays a role of messenger, people pay for the messenger. Bad messengers lose the race, good messengers rule the race. Everything is balanced, no overdoing, no flooding. In this beautiful balanced ecosystem, advertisers are just the cherry on cake. Hope, the days have come. I truly wish.

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Opinion

If I get Corona, I will NOT blame the government

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Image via Ranjit Samit

After a momentary relief, Nepal is again in panic mode with rapidly rising corona cases for which the healthcare system is not equipped to handle the cases. This has been a great concern and reason to panic for all. Some are all prepared to blame the Oli-led government for all this mess but I am not in the mood to blame the government this time, and rather introspect and retrospect everything.

By scapegoating Oli administration alone, we are losing the greatest opportunity of our time to evolve to better and wiser version

Corona pandemic has only exposed our systemic failure, our collective stupidity, our shortsightedness, which we were unable to realize pre-corona. Whatever is happening now isn’t just the result of incompetency of Oli administration, so it will be unfair to pass all the blames to them. Instead, we all need to share the blames.

Blame public

Binodbikash Simkhada, a healthcare worker in UK, has posted this on his Facebook wall:

That pretty much explains where do we, the public from Nepal, stand when it comes to taking an individual responsibility and precautionary measures in individual level. We can come up with hundreds of defending reasons for gathering in Jatra, functions; roaming around without mask, rushing in busy streets. Whatever the reasons be, no one to be blamed but ourselves if we catch Corona.

And here we are, dealing with rapidly-spreading pandemic.

BLAME FROM RANAS TO REPUBLICS

Agree that citizens from developed countries might have a luxury of living with precautionary measures which we don’t have as that would challenge our daily livelihoods but again Oli administration alone is not to be blamed for that but many governments from past, whose collective failures have stopped us from prospering, growing, building a social security net. In 250 years, we as a country were too arrogant and self obsessed with our own opinion-based ideologies that we were lost in experimenting stupid and failed governing practices, that we only ended up becoming more poorer, more vulnerable. We would not like what is working in West, we would not like what is working in India or China. We were only too overconfidence with “Nepal suhaudo.” From Ranas to BP to Mahendra to Girija to even Republics, centuries lost in search of “Nepal Suhaudo” system.

And here we are paying the price for all those failed practices, experiments, ideologies, which if benefited anyone, then only those close to power.

BLAME THE RULING CLASS

Our single hospital can’t even accommodate 500 patients at a time, forget about intensive cares for mass. Let’s question ourselves, how did we lack this behind? What stopped us from producing doctors? What stopped us from bringing foreign investments? What stopped us from creating a job market for doctors from the around the world? Sole blame goes to those in power and close to power, who exploited this country and system to milk it only for themselves stopping everyone else in the name of nationalism and socialism.

And, here we are forced to get cure from handful of hospitals and doctors and the ecosystem that are owned by the ruling class from past and present.

BLAME MYSELF

I am part of the public, with “hya chalcha” attitude, “j parla parla” irresponsible behavior, “nothing will happen” ignorant.

I am part of the problem that despite being privileged enough to raise voice, talk awareness, literate enough to read and write, I am choosing the path of “let it be.”

To conclude

We have become a country of broiler chicken. A single virus outbreak can kill most of us, and those who survive too will be sold out as migrant workers. In between, we are left on our own fate. How did we end up becoming such country? Did we become this in last 3 years, that we otherwise were super awesome?

This pandemic is in a way blessing in disguise to realize our weaknesses and mistakes from past because present is nothing but the consequences of past actions and decisions.

If present is terribly bad, you must go back to the past to learn the lesson and not indulge around in present, because indulging in present give a momentary orgasm but serve no benefit in terms of learning and growing.

If we rightly understand and acknowledge our systemic failure along with causation and admit that the present is only the reflection of our past deeds and thoughts, our basic human consciousness will naturally guide us to right path and direction.

By saying that, I didn’t mean to spare Oli administration completely. We need to keep our voice loud, head straight, determination strong to make sure Oli administration does not give the continuity of our past mistakes and stupidity, which consequences our generations are bearing now.

Any incident is supposed to teach you a lesson, make you realize, make you understand right from wrong, give you more clarity and wisdom, that you become better, more wiser and more grown. This Covid-19 incident can be one of those opportunities to make us better and wiser if only we admit and acknowledge the years of malpractices, mistakes, shortsightedness that we all are paying now the heavy price for. If we only make it Oli-to-be-blamed-and-no-one-else thing, it may give a political mileage but will not build the collective consciousness needed for this country to move forward because we would not learn anything by blaming the present alone.

Bau ko rin chora lie. Deal with it, learn from it, get better and wiser.

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Opinion

Problem in problem solving

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On the earlier post, KMAG published an article emphasizing on the need of cultivating a culture of openly talking about certain traits and characters that are reflection of troublesome and potential threats, while fighting against “violence against women.” The article basically tried to dig on psychological factors, along with cultural factors that are quite apparent yet we collectively ignore or hesitate to talk about. In response to the article, Dr. Neeti Aryal Khanal commented, “…Your explanation of violence as psychological problem of abuser is laughable in itself.”

I know her for her bold statement on her Facebook, especially related to gender and societal issues and I respect her for many other different reasons regardless of our differences.

However, I am turning this particular comment as an opportunity to express something that I have been deeply feeling regarding how we educated populace often fail in problem solving and why.

Let’s take Rape as a problem.

Rape happens for different reasons.

Oh! my dad is DSP, I am untouchable.Impunity reason.
Oh! girls are made for sex. What is a big deal in having a forceful sex?Cultural reason (misogyny).
Nepal’s law. I don’t fear.” Weak law enforcement reason.
I am too desperate and I can’t control my sexual urge.Psychological reason.
“I enjoy raping. It makes me feel good.” Criminal reason.

You see, rape does not happen for one specific reason. Different people rape for different reasons (sometimes mixed of all). There are so many factors behind any incident. And if you are to look for a solution, you need to rightly understand what all are the factors involved. You need to take different approach for same problem with different factor.

Sadly, we are often too black and white while analyzing any problem. When you are too blind to think that there is only one factor for causing one specific problem, you will never find a solution, just like our political parties. “Oh! King is the reason for all our problems” and removed the king just to realize that’s not the sole reason. That’s a very good reference and lesson to learn from.

Anyone with bachelor level of education have conducted some kind of research or done assignment and must have learned how to analyze a problem. As taught in college, we need to take various factors into consideration to understand problem before we work towards the solution. Strangely, the very same assignment, we forget while in real world. We jump out of closet “faasi de!” as if problem is only with weak law enforcement. We demand “Kill the culture” as if that’s the only reason.

I strongly think now that this black and white thinking is one of the reasons why we never succeed to solve a problem. We become so obsessed with our idea of what could be the problem, that we don’t even think of other various factors involved. Why corruption? Because of this” Why poor? because of this. Why road accident? because of this” I mean, we really think there is always that one specific reason for that specific problem and nothing else. What will happen next? We chop off one head, just to realize there are other heads, just to be forever lost in the problem.

Instead, problem solving needs a scientific approach. What I meant by scientific approach is that we first identify a problem and think over all the possible causes and reasons. We take stats and analyze each case understanding factors involved. Then we try to understand the most common factor in all the all cases and we derive a solution that addresses that common factor, and then derive other factor-specific solutions.

That’s how an educated person is supposed to look at a problem and prescribe a solution. So many rape cases, so many acid attacks, so many domestic violence. How many times have our feminists actually have sat and segregated the case income-level wise, ethnicity wise, geography wise; how many times have they tried to look into a case apart from “patriarchy” angle? Of course, that is there and is expected to be one of the main reasons, but still have anyone ever tried to look from psychological factor? Not just feminist, but even our investigative agencies and bodies, media and civil society, I have never found them looking into a problem in much broader sense, analyzing layer by layer and rightly reaching to conclusion like a researcher does.

Anti-capitalists are too quick assign the blame to capitalist world.
Feminists are too quick assign the blame to patriarchy.
Activists are too quick to assign the blame to weak law enforcement and impunity.

I don’t know where it is coming from, because our education system has always taught us to never take a black and white approach to understand a problem and its causes. Maybe, it is coming from our politics, or from black and white media narratives, or our home or society.

Whatever, in this too-quick-to-assign-the-blame to something that we inherently hate or distaste, we have been failing to solve the problem, because problem has 100 heads and not just one head.

This is very important for every educated one out there to understand. What’s the difference between you the educated one and the porn-is-the-reason politician, otherwise.

p.s. This post is not about rape. Only taking rape as an example of discourse to imply how and why we fail in problem solving.

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Opinion

No, our girls too need a teaching

This article is gender-specific but should not mistake as gender bias. It works for both.

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In almost all the narratives related to violence against women, most of the slogans are like “teach your son…and not the girl,”
“our men need to be told……”
“let’s demand for strict punishment ….”

Not disagreeing with that, but in all that, we are skipping an important narrative that should have been equally bold and loud and that is to specify certain traits and characters and attitudes to be avoided and cut off from life.

Yes, it’s true that if males are taught well, females will suffer less. So, let’s say a campaign is run to aware and educate parents and every stakeholder of a society to take a responsibility to groom their male child properly. It may take 5 years, let’s say, to reach to that ideal state where every male has learned to behave properly. But in between those 5 years, how to safeguard our girl child? Should we close our eyes towards potential victims just because everything will be alright in 5 years?

So, while raising awareness, educating people, fighting against evil, we should equally take a responsibility of teaching and guiding our young girls on how they can avoid psychopath from life. How to identify male friends who seems threat? What are those specific traits and characters that they should look for? It could be maybe toxic masculinity. It could be narcissist characters.

There are many researches conducted on how psychopath, criminal minds, sociopaths are; their behavioral psychology, the way they talk, they way they act, and how that signals out their passive devil inside. We should be talking more often on those traits, those characters and types. Our young girls need to be told in dinner table, in cafe table, about types of men that they should be extra careful about. Our girls need to be told how inside a 6-feet tall and handsome, there might be an abuser dwelling in and how to identify that. Our girls need to be told inside a funny guy, there might be a psychopath who would not mind to burn her alive when in anger and how to identify that.

In South Asia and many least-developed countries, life is hard and being a girl is harder. It is hardest when you are soft, innocent, lonely, confused and has no body to look up to or reach out to. Most of the victims are the very same girls who fall in the trap of manipulative guys, because they were never told how to identify good guys from bad guys, because we as a society never talked about. We emphasized more on looks, wealth, profile but never in traits and characters.

How many times have our media talked about psychopaths, sociopaths? How often have our media published papers on criminal minds? How many times have you read articles or view contents from Nepali media on personality disorders? We barely have worked or studied on psychology, whereas most of such evil acts and behaviors are deeply rooted to psychology. And, there are cultural aspects fueling up the sick minds.

Point is, a person before turns into a violent boyfriend, he has always been apparent from the beginning that he has the tendency. A person before throws an acid, he has always been apparent from the beginning that he is capable of doing that. A person before rapes or sexually harasses somebody, has been very apparent through his way of talking or doing things from the beginning. We as a society collectively if play a role of educating people on all that, probably we will save many young girls from becoming a victim, without which she would only fall too quickly just over that charming face or smile or funny talk.

So while teaching the guys on how to behave, we should simultaneously teach our girls how to identify the potential rapist, potential acid attacker, abuser and harasser just in few meets. Encourage our girls to read more articles on human psychology, personality. Just by googling “how to know if I am dating an abuser” will itself gives 100s of well-researched articles. We should cultivate a culture of such that they be aware what they are signing up for.

Make it a coffee-table talk, make it a dinner-table talk; make it a social media talk. Make it loud and clear the kind of guys girls need to avoid. In this echo chamber, another beautiful thing will happen and that is you set norms for guys out there. No guys want to be someone that girls like to avoid. In between, behavior shaping happens, cultural shift happens.

Otherwise, until we don’t finish teaching and grooming all the guys, our girls will be keep suffering. You don’t want that, do you?

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