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The Truth about the Truth

In Nepal, currently, there are six major television stations and obviously, the competition among these is getting fiercer to “break” the news first. This tussle can be a very positive sign of media development, however there remains a big question of professionalism brought about by this war for supremacy. Small playground, big players!

Are these TV stations forgetting about “responsibility” and “accountability” towards people? The two elements are among the basic principles a media adheres to (or should adhere to), at least people believe so. A media is believed to be committed towards maintaining “Accuracy”, “Truthfulness” and “Fairness” while reporting and disseminating news.

The breaking news was about an accident of a school bus in Khani-khola of Okharpauwa VDC, Nuwakot district on Saturday January 5, 2008. It was 8 PM and some details were already scrolling in Sagarmatha and Avenues and Nepal 1. The other channels also started broadcasting the news one by one.

First, Kantipur TV broadcasted the news saying – 5 people have died, while 60 were injured in the accident. Breaking news as it was, the news anchor Gobinda Acharya stated the name of the school as “Academy of SCARED Hearts”.

Nepal TV, almost 5 minutes later, said – 3 people died with more than 40 injured in the accident. Again, interestingly, senior news-anchor Samita Rana said the name of the school as “Academy of SACARD Hearts”.

Sagarmatha TV was broadcasting an interview with CPN Maoist chairman Prachanda at the time. Its scroll was breaking the news – 2 dead and 40 injured. Avenues TV was scrolling as – 5 dead and more than 3 dozen injured. Meanwhile, Nepal 1 just increased the number of dead. It was scrolling – 6 dead and 40 injured. Image Channel entirely missed out the race as its prime time news started only at 8.30 PM.

It was a display of blatant recklessness in news reporting and a shameful callousness towards the lives of people. For these TV stations, this may or may not be a “huge” issue that needs to be debated.

I can only sympathize with the families and relatives of those who were killed and injured in the accident but Nepali television media itself went through another accident of its own – an accident due to lack of professionalism, accountability and responsibility. In their quest to deliver the truth, they inadvertently raped the truth itself and left the people to suffer in confusion. In their race to the top of the ratings, the truth about the truth became blurred somewhere in the middle.

The next morning, many newspapers and the 8.00 AM news on Kantipur TV and Nepal TV confirmed that 3 people had died and around 60 were injured. Amazingly, Image Channel still reported the death toll was 6.

(Written on Jan5,2008/Jan6,2008. Originally posted here)

52 thoughts on “The Truth about the Truth

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  29. A point well made. Some correspondents ask official A about the incident and some others ask official B, and some ask official C, who are themselves not well informed. Should there be an official government spokesperson from the Home Ministry to divulge the real numbers? 😯 Do we have a Home Ministry?

    It’s good, though that there’s some competition now. On the downside, what you’ve said does take place. But, on the up side, some of the well established media – that only market opinions and tell you what to think, hear and read under the tutelage of the ruling political elites and “foreign investors” – will be forced to either run as a business, a professional outfit, an accountable public enterprise or leave the playing field.

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