Compensation to Nepalis Killed in Iraq: The Reporting Experience

Media Watch: Nepali reporters and news outlets sometime make jokes out of themselves. While reporting news, they hardly care about facts, those facts that are usually the backbone of the story itself. Rookie reporters and careless editors are often to be blamed for such inaccuracies.

I am talking about the coverage of latest development from Washington DC on the compensation awarded to the families of nine of the 12 Nepalis killed in Iraq in 2004.

Someone called Rajendra Thakuri, “an entrepreneur” based in Washington DC, sent an email to a few media outlets, including to Kantipur where I work, detailing how his neighbor, Matthew Handley and Matthew’s law firm successfully fought on behalf of the Nepalis killed in Iraq. Rajendra doesn’t categorically mention that the court ruling was for only 9 of the 12 Nepalis though he says in his email to the media that “there is better news for some of these families.” But the title of his article in Nepalnews, presumably put by Nepalnews, is misleading and wrong.

Instead of trying to verify the information, which is so easy thanks to the Internet and cheap phone calls to the US, reporters blindly report in many newspapers and web sites today that families of ALL 12 will get the compensation.

Only Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post (not even our own ekantipur) got it right because they reported that the families of only 9 out of 12 will get the compensation [See the screen print version of some outlets via the links at the end of this post.] I shared all the documents that I downloaded from the web site of Cohen Milstein, the firm that represented 11 Nepalis, with Prabhakar Ghimire, who wrote the news for the Kathmandu Post. Both the Post’s and Kantipur’s reporting also includes interview of Matt that I conducted in which he talks about the case and his involvement in it.

The moral lesson: Of course, mistakes do happen because we are all human being [My own mistake, as one reader pointed out, is that it should have been Chicago Tribune, not Chicago Times as I wrote in the report]. But the grand question is: are we trying to avoid them? Reporters, please check facts before writing the story. There is something called Google. Just google it!!

Googling would have taken you to the web site of Cohen Milstein where they have separate section for this case that has PDF files of the many related documents.

Click on the following names to see the screen print of their respective coverage of each of the news outlets:

THT, Nepalnews, eKantipur.

[Nepal Samacharpatra and Rajdhani dailies have also published wrong reporting.]

Here are the PDF versions of the front and third pages of Kantipur: Page 1 and Page 3