Everest Uncensored can lead the movement
Citizen Journalism is booming genre of the 21st Century Journalism. It seeks the active participation of citizens on collection, reporting, analysis and dissemination of news. Hence, it is also called participatory journalism. With the rapid growth of information technology the number of internet users has boomed, so has the number of internet based news media i.e. online.
In recent years, the Information Technology developed to such a height that like mailbox, some internet Service Providers began to provide separate websites for the individuals. At the beginning, such websites were used just as personal web diaries and hence called weblog. The weblog became blog in short but turned as a vibrant medium of information exchange. Such sites began to be known as blogs. People used those blogs to exchange information, subsequently challenging the mainstream media on which a limited number of professional journalists tries to cover variety of news and opinions. The mainstream was challenged by the blogs, on which, evidently a large number of citizens engage themselves on collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating various types of news.
In recent days, the blogs also set new standards in freedom of Opinion and Expression. The blogs, as personal diary, remained beyond the arms of legal censorship and upheld the Right to Expression. Subsequently, they also worked as a tool to safeguard democracy. They gave the forum for public to express freely when there is government censorship; be it Post February First, 2005 Nepal or transforming South Korea’s traditional political environment, or setting up Independent Media Centre (IMC) to protest the WTO meeting in Seattle, USA in 1999.
The OhmyNews has been leading the Citizen Journalism movement globally and particularly in Asia. The proponent OhmyNews is also a full fledged participatory news site. It has recruited more than five thousand citizen Reporters from around the world. OhmyNews prints a weekly edition, runs two websites i.e. www.ohmynews.com in Korean and http://english.ohmynews.com/ in English which totally relies on those (most of them non- professional) reporters for the content. It also pays a little amount for the articles from those reporters. Wikipedia states it campaigned in favor of the presidential candidate Roo Moh Hyun, which it said in against South Korea’s traditional political environment and is supposed to have played a vital role on making him victor in presidential elections in December 2002. www.malaysiakini.com is the other leader of this movement in Asia.
After the Ohmynews’ global leadership in citizen journalism from Asia, it has also decreased the digital divide. And giving opportunity for everyone to speak and express, it has challenged the long withstanding vertical flow of news. Since then there has been growing discussion on whether such journalism i.e. citizen journalism is really challenging the mainstream.
In general, the history of Citizen Journalism in Nepal goes back to a decade when the boom in broadsheet dailies gave space for the reactions from the readers. Now many of the broadsheet dailies have begun to provide significant space every day for such views. Hence, preliminary practice of Citizen Journalism began in Nepal from Audience’s reaction.
Particularly, citizen Journalism in Nepal flourished after February first Royal move on which the government imposed censorship on media, refraining the mainstream media from flowing true and factual information. Aryal (2005) states that blogging in Nepal took off after February 2005 as a means to both bypass official censorship and to protest against it. … blogging here graduated from personal, sometimes self-indulgent observations to an important vehicle for free speech.
They provided an active forum for the exchange of news and views and subsequently played an active role on restoring democracy in the country. More than two dozen blog sites devoted themselves for the cause.
In this context, the Time Magazine has declared all the bloggers as the person of the year 2006. Grossman (2006) states, it’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter…. Reuters is carrying blog postings alongside its regular news feed. Microsoft is working overtime to fend off user-created Linux. We’re looking at an explosion of productivity and innovation, and it’s just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy.
Like Ohmynews, citizen journalism can flourish in Nepal as well. Shrestha (2006) observes, Citizen Journalism is still a new term for the Nepalese in general. But there are some developments here. Kantipur, the widely circulated Nepali daily, started a full-page reader’s column about three months ago. I consider this practice as a form of citizen journalism, as there are lots of news and information and opinions from readers, sometimes more effective that those of professional writers and journalists. So, if someone initiates the citizen journalism model here, it will be success.
With the boom in the number of blogs, Nepal has also leaped into the age of citizen journalism. Nevertheless, the practice is still in a primary stage. Besent (2005) observes, by flowing quick and uncensored news, the blogs set viable challenges to the mainstream media in the post February first Nepal. Now, it’s time for the discussions whether such journalism really suits Nepal. During 19 day’s of popular uprising this April, blogs posed a viable threat to the mainstream media. United We blog and Mysansar.com were the leading blog sites then. Now, full fledged participatory news sites e.g. www.cjnepal.org and www.everestuncensored.org are practicing citizen Journalism and leading the movement.
In the given scenario, there are larger prospects of citizen Journalism flourishing in Nepal. Taking the example of OhmyNews and Malaysiakini, such sites like www.everestuncensored.org could flourish, if they could afford to offer certain remuneration for the writers. It shall be a tool of accomplishing social responsibility as well as a foundation on citizen journalism movement. In practical, Everest Uncensored has been a full fledged participatory website for news and views. However, unlike OhmyNews, editors don’t edit the articles of participating citizen reporters, as told bloggers and also there is not any provision of remuneration to all ‘bloggers’. If the Everest Uncensored Administration could manage a little fund and the aforementioned provision, it will be the first blog of its kind, and a milestone in citizen journalism movement in Nepal.
The article was prepared as a concept paper for Dissertation in MA in Mass Communoication and Journalism. The blogger is the student of Purwanchal University, College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kathmandu.