Nepal’s largest media house established after the restoration of democracy celebrated its 13 anniversary emerging out of a difficult year in its history.
Editor Narayan Wagle, in red sweater, sorrounded by reporters of Kantipur Publications. All pics via Kantipur
By Dinesh Wagle
“Last year we were worried about the possibility of not being able to gather here like this today,” Narayan Wagle, editor of Kantipur daily started his speech on Sunday (Feb 19) in a ceremony organized to mark the 13th anniversary of Kantipur Publications, Nepal’s largest private media house. Almost all reporters from around the country working for the company were present in the occasion and the scene, according a reporter, was like a general convention of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ). [In fact the umbrella body of Nepali journalists (FNJ) hosted a tea-party this morning in a New Baneshwor cafe exclusively for Kantipur reporters from outside Kathmandu Valley. Reporters interacted with Bishnu Nishturi and talked on strengthening FNJ movement around the country.]
At times newsrooms of Kantipur were packed with sounds and auras representing different parts of the country. Reporters interacted with bureau chiefs and senior journalists about future working plans and other topics. Hearing stories from different parts of the county was like listening to the radio version of a newspaper. Everyone had an experience or two to share with other colleague.
“Kantipur Publications is committed to promote rule of law and contribute in the peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict in the Nepal.” Hem Raj Gyawali, Chairman, Kantipur Publications
Wagle was talking about the situation that Nepali media faced immediately after the royal takeover last year. Year 2005 was full of challenges and threats from the state to the independent media. Regressive state was aggressively against the professional media that reported independently. Some media fought back with Group Kantipur on the lead. [That includes the Kathmandu Post, an English language daily by Kantipur Publications].
From The War Zone: J Pandey, Nepaljung-based reporter, (above, right, receiving the award from Chairman Hem Raj Gyawali) shared his experience of working in the environment of bombs and blasts. “Its very difficult for a reporter to gather independent news without being physically hurt,” he said while addressing the ceremony. “Being a Kantipur reporter has definitely helped on that. But these days a reporter has to be really adventurous to gather news.”
“The progress we did in the last year has hinted of new Nepal,” said Wagle as reporters, administrative staffs and top brass of the company were keenly following his words in the Kantipur Complex. “We have successfully developed ourselves as the benchmark of freedom in this country. Kantipur has become the center of hope for foreigners and Nepalis alike. We have received appreciation and criticism for our works in the past year and we are hopeful about future.” Stating that newspaper circulation in developing nation was increasing and the same is happening in Nepal Wagle stressed the need for journalists to work in a team spirit on new topics with renewed commitments.
“We don’t have political, cultural or economic baseness,” Wagle said. “But we need to defend peoples’ right to be informed and freedom of expression.”
Naturally folks present in the Kantipur Complex were more curious to hear from Kailash Sirohiya, the Managing Director of the Publications. He is the one who announces salary increments, bonuses and other benefits. And he also announces cost cutting measures that the company would take in the year. Considering the situation last year, no one had seriously expected Sirohiya to announce the increment of the salary. Sirohiya congratulated journalists and administrative staffs for working in the team spirit and making Kantipur truly a Hamro Kantipru (Our Kantipur). “Hamro Kantipur worked in as a team in difficult times and succeeded in disseminating true and independent news. Thirteen is considered a bad luck,” Sirohiya said. ” We had to cut several benefits last year because of difficult situation. We are entering into the 14th year from today. I hope good days will come.”
Hem Raj Gyawali, chairman of Kantipur Publications said the company was committed to promoting rule of law and contributing in the peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict in the country. “We have taken risks to work toward establishing sustainable democracy in the country that would let people live in peace and prosperity,” said Gyawali. Stating that the 13th year of the Publications was the most tumultuous year in its history, Gyawali expressed happiness over the fact that Kantipur’s publications have continued to be the choice of esteemed readers.
Addressing the function, Prateek Pradhan, editor of the Post, remembered the same day last year. “There was dark cloud over the sky and water was about to fall,” he said. “I remember saying that the cloud would disappear and bright day would come. It seems the cloud has disappeared but not completely. It reappears. We have come through difficult days.”
Awards were distributed to journalists and staffs who were declared best in the year 2005. Bikash Thapa took away the honor from Kantipur daily where as Dileep Dhakal (the Kathmandu Post), Krishna Bhattarai (Sapthakik), Tilak Pathak (Nepal Magazine), J Pandey (district network), Bibek Pokharel (Marketing), Subha Shakya (Designing), Kritanzali Dhakal (Kantipur FM) took away other awards. Special award was given to four staffs including photo journalist Bikash Karki.
Award Winning Photo Journalist: Photojournalist Bikash Karki was awarded for his outstanding performance in the year 2005. Karki, who has click-scooped many photographs in the last year including the tear-gas brutality in New Baneshwor, wasn’t present in ceremony to receive the award. Why? He was taking some scoop photographs of baton-charging in the Dasharath Stadium! “I was pleasantly surprised,” he said about him being awarded. “As I was packing my stuffs to come here to attend the ceremony, fighting erupted. Then I started taking pictures.”
Pradhan elaborated the role that the Group Kantipur successfully played in 2005 by providing people with independent information. “We gave this country a ray of hope,” he said. “We wrote for people, press freedom and human rights. We lead the journalism for the benefit of people and if we hadn’t done that the country could have seen worse situation.” Pradhan said that he still feels journalists need to struggle for freedom. He also thanked the management team of Kantipur Publications for giving complete editorial freedom, strength and support in difficult times. “The credit of our success goes to the Team Kantipur,” he said.
Veteran journalist and newly appointed editor of Nepal Magazine said that Kantipur proudly carried the flag of professionalism in the country at a time when letters have been surrendering to the state for no reason whatsoever. Subash Dhakal, editor of Saptahik and Naari (both from Kantipur Publications) congratulated colleagues and stressed on the need of team work.
Kantipur Tower: It would not be an exaggeration to say that Kantipur Publications represents the progress and freedom that Nepal saw and enjoyed in the democratic decade of 1990. As veteran journalist Kishore Nepal remarked that even a decade ago no one had imaginze that Nepal would see a successful media house like Kantipur of today.
Senior cartoonist Durga Baral Batshyaan also spoke on the occasion. He shared his experience of 10 year association with Kantipur and said that the autocracy always fears humor and entertainment. “That is why it tries to introduce laws to curb press freedom. Humor and entertainment weakens the regime.” He also talked about how he thought of stopping sending cartoons to Kantipur but continued after an editor called him to continue with creativity. “In the beginning [just after Feb 1 takeover] I thought Kantipur wouldn’t publish my cartoons,” said the veteran artist. “That is why I started self-censoring. Then I fell ill and was thinking of stopping making cartoons. But Prateek Pradhan, editor of the Post, called me [in Pokhara] and requested to continue work. From the next week I started making cartoons freely and some of them have really created waves in the establishment.”
Batshyaan hoped that days will come soon when cartoonists and journalists do their work freely and without any hidden fear.
Then there was a ‘peaceful’ dinner party. Folks, it appeared, thoroughly enjoyed the food!