By Parul Goswami
Posted on: 21September 2016
According to the 2016 World Press Freedom Index report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), there has been a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and regional levels. India ranks abysmally low at 133 among 180 countries. Among India’s neighbouring countries, Pakistan ranks 147, Sri Lanka (141), Afghanistan (120), Bangladesh (144), Nepal (105), Bhutan (94) and China is ranked 176.
Recently there has been a lot of concern over media situation in Nepal. In a major setback to free and independent journalism in South Asia, the publication of Himal Southasian, which had been in circulation for the past 29 years, was suspended by the Southasia Trust because of “non-cooperation by regulatory state agencies in Nepal. Journalists, writers, filmmakers and bloggers across the world expressed their resentment and support to the publication.
Media has been time and again intimidated in Nepal. Despite these doom scenarios, Nepal will host more than 300 media muckrakers from nearly 50 different countries, who will be attending the second edition of Asian Investigative Journalism Conference in Kathmandu from September 22-25, 2016.
Nepal’s largest ever-international media conference, the Uncovering Asia: 2nd Asian Investigative Journalism Conference is co-hosted by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJ), Nepal, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
The conference offering dozens of informational sessions on state-of- art investigative techniques and will feature top investigative reporters, data journalists, and media law and security experts from across Asia and around the world.
In 2014, at the first investigative journalism conference in Manila, Sheila Coronel, PCIJ cofounder and now dean of academic affairs at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism says that an increasingly interconnected world needs journalists who can work across borders to hold power to account.
Quoting from her address, “Speaking truth to power is an Asian value. Investigative journalism is not a modern phenomena for Asia or even India.” She reopened pages of Asian history to prove that there have always been men and women, who exposed the abuse of power and the hypocrisy.
“Like priests, we perform the culturally sanctioned rituals of exposure and shaming”, taking the investigative journalism to whole new level.
Data journalism is a growing phenomenon. There has been a lot of growth and interest about data in India as well, which will be shared in the Nepal conference by many prominent speakers.
Sessions on data journalism in the conference provide journalists the opportunity to sharpen their skills in identifying useful data, extracting it, cleaning it, analyzing it, visualizing it and finally, telling a story with it.
Climate change is another key topic at the conference. The subject has received increasing attention in the media in the last decade. Investigative skills and techniques in environmental journalism are still at its nascent stages in Asia.
GIJN conferences are giant training events, focused on tools, techniques, and networking, and a perfect platform to learn and collaborate with journalists from around the world.
“Democracy in Asia has to be protected by the maximum application of press freedom,” says Kunda Dixit, co-founder and board member of the Nepal CIJ. “We look forward to welcoming the global community of investigative journalists to Kathmandu.”
Parul Goswami is a team member of CIJ, India
Collection of watchdog reporting from India