Nepal coverage in US media is encouraging
By Dinesh Wagle, New York
Wagle Street Journal, American Edition
Manish Swarup/Associated Press via The New York Times
Head of the wonderful American family that is hosting me in this alien land of New Jersey, half an hour drive from downtown New York City, was pleasantly surprised by what he saw on the front page of the New York Times. A big photo, actually four columns, with a boldfaced line under it: “Conciliatory Gesture by King of Nepal Does Little to Halt Violence.” Just below that line goes on the main body of the caption that explains the horrific photo to hundreds of thousands of Americans. “Police officers used clubs to break up an antimonarchy demonstration yesterday in Katmandu (Kathmandu as we spell). King Gyanendra said later that he would turn over power to a prime minister chosen by the political parties, but his statement seemed to bring little relief in the national crisis.” Then the Times wanted its readers to turn to Page A6 where there was yet another four-column photo with a six-column news story. The caption of the black and white photo read: “A photograph of King Gyanendra landed in a ditch yesterday with other items tossed there by demonstrators in Katmandu, the Nepalese capital”. The front page color photograph is credited to Manish Swarup/Associated Press where as the second one is clicked by Tomas van Houtryve for The New York Times. “It’s rare that I see Nepal on the front page of the Times,” my host said. (As I am writing this blog, I can see another report on Nepal is the leading news on the Times web site.)
A few minutes later his wife enthusiastically showed me the World Page of a local daily newspaper of the town that had given nearly quarter page long report on Nepal. “Oh..this is rare,” she said pointing out to another small piece of news about another country. “Before, this paper would give only this much of space. Today it’s big.” Yes, my hosts aren’t the only people surprised by the sudden increase of Nepal coverage in the US media in the last several days. No doubt, the coverage of the Times (by its reporters Somini Sengupta and Tilak P. Pokharel) is the best coming out from Nepal. And the same was observed by prominent media personalities of the US in an international conference of journalists from around the world. “The Nepal coverage of the Times is wonderful,” said Walter Isaacson, former CEO and ex-managing editor of Time Magazine: “It has fallen into the hands of very good reporters.” Isaacson was moderating a panel discussion taking part by celebrated American journalists including the legendry former Washington Post executive editor (now vice president at-large of the Post) Benjamin C. Bradlee. Gwen Ifill, a journalist with ABC, agreed.
“We have been working very closely with India. We welcome the proposal [put forward by the king]. Now [the arrow has been] turned to the political parties. Now they should form the government. That is extremely important.” -American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
The panel discussion was organized in Washington D.C. as part of an International symposium in which about 129 journalists, including myself, from around the world participated. All of those journalists were visiting the United States at the invitation of the US State Department. They went to different American cities, discussed about journalism and American society with American professors in different Universities (I went to University of Southern California along with the South Asian, South East Asian and English language African groups) and observed how their American counterparts work in different media houses. The symposium was also addressed by the American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Responding to a question on the recent political situation in Nepal, especially the royal address, Rice said, “We have been working very closely with India. We welcome the proposal [put forward by the king]. Now [the arrow has been] turned to the political parties. Now they should form the government. That is extremely important.” She also mentioned of American ambassador’s consultations with Indian foreign secretary Shyam Sharan.
Pic by Tomas van Houtryve via The New York Times
Let me return to the Nepal coverage on American media. Many of the major newspapers including Chicago Tribune are carrying the reports by international news agencies like Associated Press. Even local papers like Los Angeles Daily news and regional papers like Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are giving significant space to the political development in Nepal. According to many whom I talked to about the Nepal coverage in US media, this is the first time that Nepal has got so much attention. An editor with the LA Daily News told me that the paper generally covers nothing about Nepal but this time around the situaition there is getting worse.
Apart from the newspapers, electronic media like CNN (the American edition), National Public Radio are also giving significant time for Nepali politics.