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It is a self-evident truth that the mass media plays an important role in our respective democracies, so we can present the news without fear or favour, and let the microchips fall where they may. We take our adversarial role seriously to comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable, hold power to account and publish every hearsay that is fit to print.
However, we should not take for granted the freedom guaranteed to us in the Constitution. It was irresponsible on the part of a talk show host to hound Deputy Prime Minister Upadro Yadav until he staged a walkout during a live studio interview. If he was serious about defending press freedom, the anchor in question should have challenged him to a swordfight before cameras.
We hear the government has decided not to blame messengers anymore. It has decided to arrest them. From now on, Nepali journalists don’t have to think twice about saying how awesome Comrade Awesome is. They only have to think once. (Thank goodness 40% of the public can’t read or write, otherwise you might actually believe the news.)
There is a rumour going around that we journos aren’t free to be sycophantic and hypocritical liars anymore. It is true that there is complete freedom of press in Nepal, it’s just that we don’t have freedom after press. The grovelment is not stopping anyone from singing hosannas at the top of their voices at any given time. Just surf the tv news channels: our aforementioned freedoms are perfectly intact and us hacks have never been freer to lick or kiss ass, and be kicked in the Ass.
Yet, we must not be complacent and rest on our laurels. We must not forget to kowtow when asked only to bow. We must always be prepared to print handouts in exchange for handouts. But unlike some other professions, we are not the type to take the envelope and run. Our journalistic code of ethics does not allow that — we take the cash out, return the envelope, and only after that, run.
There are no curbs on vowel movements in Nepal, we are free to report any and all official pronunciations without let or hindrance, except when it pertains to the Dalai Lama’s health bulletin. Thanks to the Ministry of Misinformation and Newspeak, the media today is more self-reliant, self-important, self-righteous and self-censored than ever before.
If we have hurt anyone’s feelings, forgive us our press passes. Tough luck.