The segment of the population with the ability to understand English in Nepal must have been very small 57 years ago when The Rising was launched. This leads one to draw the conclusion that the publication of the English daily must have been initiated to inform the outer world about Nepal.
As English was already established by that time as a dominant world language, the publication of the daily English newspaper by a government enterprise, Gorkhapatra Corporation, must have been part of the government’s efforts to communicate with the international community. Maybe the paper served the nation’s interests and objectives with regard to making the global audience informed about Nepal’s socio-economic and political condition as well as its natural and cultural heritage.
Deluge of English-Languag Media
That was then. Now, over the last two decades, the internet has drastically changed the way people as well as nation-states communicate with each other. Additionally, there are many English-language dailies published in Nepal. Following the reinstatement of parliamentary democracy in 1990, many private media houses have been established, which also publish English dailies.
Consequently, The Rising Nepal has lost its status as the single source of news and views about Nepal for foreigners with the ability to understand English. Of course, some English dailies came and went, but still, there are some that have been regularly published since their launch. Moreover, there are online news portals that present news in English. This changed situation calls for additional clarity on the part of the concerned authority as to the objectives of running The Rising Nepal and the associated news portal.
To be honest, this scribe has received no orientation regarding the daily's core objectives during his 16-year tenure. Every newcomer has to assume that being a state-run newspaper, the paper covers government events and voices, and as it was established with taxpayers’ money and as a news medium, it should also pay attention to being the voice of the voiceless. In the absence of pre-employment orientation and on-the-job training, it is with this assumption that everyone employed in newsmaking has to go on. The seniors transfer their assumptions to the juniors, and the juniors share the same with the newcomers. Instead of the documents to refer to, one has to look at the seniors to learn about the objectives and work toward achieving the unstated goals.
Self-assessment is a method for an individual or organisation to determine where they stand and what steps to take next to achieve specific goals.When there are no set objectives, it is understandable that there can be no self-assessment. This logic has been applied to our case, the leading English daily in the country.We have no knowledge of how we have worked or what result we have achieved. What shortcomings have lingered, and what improvements have we made?
It is common sense that media shapes people’s perceptions. It also reflects people’s views. Similarly, by repeatedly presenting a specific issue or event, the media creates an image of the event or issue.We could have known what we needed to focus on and how if there had been some kind of research on the image created by this state-run English daily, say, Nepal's natural beauty.
Like an oasis in the desert, orientation programmes for the employees of our organisation were held last year. This was probably the best initiative taken by the current management. Now, there is a need to make this a practice, not leave it as an isolated action. What is expected of the management is the conduct of self-studies of the individual units of the overall structure with a view to enhancing performance and efficiency and sharing the outcomes of such studies with the concerned employees.
The world has long ago jumped from the paper age to the digital age. Although much later, The Rising Nepal did take a leap some eight years ago when its online edition started. Despite a promising start, the online edition has not performed significantly better than the paper when compared to other similar newspapers and their associated online editions.That’s so because they both suffer from a lack of adequate and skilled human resources. It is a herculean task to compete with others when you lack the necessary resources. Worse, if you fail to opt for treatment even after you know what ails you, there is little chance of recovery.
Without a doubt, The Rising Nepal is the most dependable and trustworthy newspaper in Nepal even today.It offers the news items in a factual, evidence-based way, unlike many others, which often present the news with their own interpretation. The paper also has a glorious legacy of accuracy and credibility, although many may argue otherwise in terms of balance. But, in times of competition, it is efficiency that matters, not glory, which refers to the track record of the past.
On this auspicious day of the launch of The Rising Nepal, December 16, everyone involved has to brainstorm on ways to maintain the glory and create outstanding milestones so that we command people’s perception and remain a model and a source of inspiration. We should note that, compared to 57 years ago, we have a big market within the country as the size of the population with the ability to understand English has increased a lot. The Rising Nepal has to offer its product—news—to both domestic and international audiences. As the paper has additional responsibilities, it needs revitalisation to meet people’s expectations.
(Tiwari is a sub-editor of this daily and the coordinator of its online edition, risingnepaldaily.com.)