Tag Archives: journalism

The Kathmandu Post interview: When blogs were Twitter and Facebook

Dinesh Wagle interview with the Kathmandu Post

The Kathmandu Post celebrates its (and Kantipur’s) 21st anniversary today by publishing a 16-page pullout on Nepal’s social media scene. The supplement, titled “Platforms of Change“, explores how Nepalis are using the Internet and its various platforms mainly to express themselves and to connect and share and debate. In the lead article ‘Teleprinter to Twitter’, Editor-in-Chief Akhilesh Upadhyay talks about the impact of technological changes (and a constitutional provision that guaranteed press freedom) in impressive expansion of Nepal’s media.

I was interviewed by the Post’s Weena Pun on my political blogging and journalism days.

Here’s the page as it appeared in the Post (PDF) and the following is the text:

When the then-king Gyanendra imposed his authoritarian rule in February 2005 and later clamped down on all private media outlets in Nepal, United We Blog became the go-to site for delivering uncensored political news. One of the two co-founders behind the blog, Dinesh Wagle, a former journalist with Kantipur daily, quit blogging for the site in 2012, after seven years of running it, but still blogs on his personal site. Wagle talked to the Post’s Weena Pun about his days as a journalist/blogger.

What is United We Blog?

It is a political blog—Nepal’s first—founded on my personal web domain in 2004. Initially it started as a forum to express private feelings and the daily grind lived by journalists and included stories by my friends Ujjwal Acharya and Deepak Adhikari and myself. Later, the site was hosted on blog.com.np and soon became the only uncensored source of political information in Nepal for a while in 2005.

Click on the photo to go to the article

Click on the photo to go to the article for background

Why did you decide to blog?

I was excited by the new medium of expression. In 2004, I had been a journalist with the mainstream media for seven years, and at that time, the new media was still very new in Nepal. Blogs were the ‘social media’ of that time. They provided additional and unlimited space for expressing ourselves, as opposed to limited print and air space of the old media. This ‘limitless’ space was the second reason for me to start a blog.

What has been the difference in your posts before and after the thenking Gyanendra clamped down on freedom of speech?

Before the royal coup in February 2005, our posts were mainly about what we did in our daily lives, whom we met and how we felt about the developments in our not-so-public lives. After Gyanendra imposed restrictions on freedom of expression, our blog posts became more political in nature and were aimed at challenging that stifling atmosphere and advocating for the restoration of democracy in Nepal. For us, freedom of expression and independent journalism became a mission. Soldiers patrolling newsrooms to impose censorship was a strange sight for us, and we expressed our dissent on our blog.

What is the difference between your work as a blogger and as a journalist? पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

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Manila

Today’s the last and 21st day in Manila. I am at the airport to fly to an Asian capital where I plan to spend a few days before moving to another one.

There was no time for me to publish any updates- words or pictures on this site- during my stay in manila except for a couple of Google Plus posts:

July 13
Have been living some of the most challenging days 🙂 Finally, go to bed at 12:30 in the night. Wake up at SIX am, flip on the computer to GO THROUGH READINGS but not to G+! By EIGHT, in the classroom. Listen to lectures, Participate in the discourse, do the power point presentations on given topics, write papers (watch movies and analyze them too!) 5:30 PM. Tired? Hell I am. But the day is not over. What are the assignments? Which group I am in? THREE more assignments for tomorrow- must complete by tonight. Okay, I am in two groups, gotta do a presentation AND participate in a debate on ethics and what not. THEN a bundle of printed materials remains to be read AND saturated into a 700 word paper. STUDENT LIFE.

[After reading this update one may understand why there are no more updates after July 13! Too many assignments and the free time had to be utilized by exploring Manila as well as nearby beaches!]

July 10 The Indonesian guy I am sharing the room with is snoring like he will not get time in future. The Cambodian classmate, meanwhile, is having a sound sleep. It’s 12:43 in the night in Manila and I just got out of the room to get some ‘peace’ and wifi in the lobby. Need to finish reading this Aristotle thing before I go to sleep. From the book: “Virtue, then, is of two kinds, intellectual and moral…The pleasure or pain that actions cause the agent may serve as an index of moral progress, since good conduct consists in a proper attitude towards pleasure and pain.” Guess what, I am a journalism student 🙂

July 9 Had a long discussion w/ my Chinese classmate here in Manila. This reminded me of similar moments w/ Xu Jie http://bit.ly/mXrQCq

July 8
 For the record: Today it rained heavily in Manila- the kind of rain that we have been experiencing in Kathmandu in recent past.

Nepali Journalists’ Convention and New Leadership (tweets)

The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) held its two-day general convention that ended today with the election of a new Central Committee. Here are my tweets from (and about) the convention and poll results.

Today’s Tweets
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65843907845566465
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65839943305539584
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65839750711476224
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65838286215720960
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65838065444331520

Yesterday’s Tweets
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65370125796249600
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65361786504876032
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65361356869742592
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65360877527900160
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65358817537433600
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65357686711123968
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65357119372791808
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65356699028029440
https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65355781729554432

Nepal in Intl. Media: Annapurna Circuit and Kathmandu in New York Times and Time

sunrise on poon hill

Sunrise on Poon Hill, with a view of 26,795-foot Dhaulagiri. Pic: Ethan-Todras Whitehill for NYT

The New York Times and Time magazine are working closely, so to speak, to cover Nepal in the past couple of weeks. First came Jim Yardley, former Beijing bureau chief of the Times now posted in New Delhi, with an analysis titled “China Intensifies Tug of War With India on Nepal.” That was in mid-February. Two weeks later Jyoti Thottam, Time‘s woman in New Delhi, saw, from Delhi, Nepal “Caught Between China and India.” [Prithvi Narayan Shah, the king who unified Nepal some 250 years ago, had realized that long time back when he said, “नेपाल दुई ढुङ्गाबीचको तरुल हो । [Nepal is a yam between two boulders.]”

Both stories are worth reading but they are not something that we can cheer about. This week NYT and Time came out with two travel reports that are certainly helpful to promote Nepali travel and tourism industry. The Times publishes an excellent travelogue from Annapurna Circuit while Time highlights Kathmandu Valley as a weekend destination. I was particularly interested in the Times story, by Ethan Todras-Whitehill, because I have done parts of the Circuit- Ghandruk Ghorepani (which counts as separate route that passes via Poon Hill) and Nar Phu trek (that touches many parts of the Circuit including Dharapani and crosses via Kang-la Pass that is only a few meters shorter than Thorang-la). The main photo- brilliant- published alongside the story- people enjoying the view of Dhaulagiri range and the sunrise- reminded me of my own moment at Poon Hill three years ago. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Dinesh Wagle Has Moved to New Delhi, India

Gopal Khanal, right, gave me a tour of India Gate, New Delhi’s one of the famous landmarks, last week. Here is my contact details in New Delhi.

Late in September I was inside a travel agency on the Nepal-India border of Sunauli. I wanted to go to Delhi and then to Mumbai and Goa. There were no train tickets available. “Okay, book me the ticket that is available,” I told the travel agent. “Anywhere. I just want to travel in Indian train. That’s it. I don’t care where the train goes.”

“Okay, there is a berth available in a train to Trivendram (the capital of the Indian state of Kerala, from Gorakhpur),” said the agent. “That too only in tatkal (immediate) service which means you have to pay extra charge.”

“Cool,” I said. “I’ll take that.”

He looked at my face and said these words in a consolatory tone: Well, you can always go to Delhi from Kathmandu in future. There is plane service (between the two capitals) and it takes time (which is about one and half hour). पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Time for Nepali Journalists to Improve Quality

Two years after the royal takeover and censorship we have now democracy and it’s time for Nepali journalists to focus on improving the quality of their reporting. Scribes took out a rally yesterday to mark the black day (Magh 19) and demanded that the Rayamajhi Commission report be made public. Pic via ekantipur

Just realized that Feb 1 (and Magh 19) passed largely unnoticed this year. May be whatever going on in Southern Nepal overshadowed the relevance of the date. Heard that journalists organized a rally in downtown Kathmandu to remember the black day (Feb 1, 2005 or Magh 19, 2061 BS is when, if you don’t have any idea, King Gyanendra went on rampage and dismissed democracy, imposed emergency and installed his autocracy in Nepal). I was too busy in other works than attending the rallies. I was planning to write something about the date but later abandoned the thought. Instead I went on to the web site of New York Times and read a few very good articles. I have always been a very big fan of New York Times and I utterly enjoy reading their coverage. (Though I was utterly disappointed a few weeks ago to find numerous mistakes in an article on Nepali politics. I sent a letter to the correction section of the paper but that never got attention of the editors there. Even we don’t do such silly mistakes here in Nepali journalism.)

I try to learn from their writing but when I sit in front of the computer to write stories like that the poor quality of research in Nepali journalism reminds to me of reality: where I am. I recently read an article about Nora Jones’ new album and, coincidentally, had to write the same kind of article on the new album of Nepali rock band 1974 AD. There I realized the difference between reading New York Times articles and writing for Kantipur. In such occasions I get frustrated and feel bad about myself and my being in journalism. Why am I here if I can’t contribute in some qualitative way? What is my role in Nepali journalism? Be just another reporter in the crowd or do something important and make some significant contribution so that our journalism standard reaches new height? There are so many things to learn. We are not perfect, yes, but the problem is we are not even trying to learn. The way we deal with issues in journalism needs to be changed and reporters’ approach to the stories must be different then that of the current ones. We have done a lot of progress in journalism in the past decade in terms of reporting, writing, presenting stories, circulating newspapers etc. But there is a long way to go.

Oh… why am I lecturing on journalism now? Because I think now is the time for all journalists in Nepal to focus on the quality of their work. Well some can continue with political mission as politics has always been there in the blood of Nepali journalists but there must be some sort of united effort to raise the standards of our journalism.

So days are normal these days; nothing fascinating is happening. Attending a few programs in the city, coming back to the office, and writing. Life is revolving around reporting. Good stories: enjoyable time, not so good stories: just another reporting.

Since I started this post with Magh 19, I think it’s relevant to be nostalgic. Boy that was a damn bad day. As I was watching Gyanendra on TV, phones went dead. Came to office, wrote a blog but found that there was no Internet. No phone in house meant no Internet there too. No Internet meant No life at all. No phones meant life faced hell lot of difficulties in reporting. No stories to translate and fill the pages that were suddenly blank because there were no advertisements. Struggling through wire reports to find useful articles to translate and work under some constant uncertainty (what will happen tomorrow?) was strenuous. Don’t even want to remember those days, particularly that first week of February.

Related Blogs

1. Nepal is closed friends [A blog notice posted from US mission in Kathmandu]

2. Great to be here Again! [First blog after the restoration of Internet]

3. New Kind of Journalism in Nepal- I [Journalism in censorship]

The John Grisham Novel and My Journalistic Life- II

Those striking similarities between Willie Traynor, the protagonist of the John Grisham novel The Last Juror and myself that I had described in detail in one of my earlier blogs, ended just there. Grisham is a master at telling stories and, well, lecturing on how a newspaper should function. I could not disagree with Grisham’s wisdom, and what Willie does at the Ford County Times, a fictional weekly paper of which he is the owner, publisher, editor and reporter. Here is why.

The ailing newspaper finds itself on the verge of bankruptcy. With the help of his generous grandmother, 24-year-old Willie takes over the management of the paper and does some wonderful reporting that the paper was aspiring to print. A gruesome murder certainly helps him. But, then, he didn’t confines himself on that event. He covers on varieties of subjects that either was neglected by the former editor/publisher or was too taboo in the white-dominated American society of 1970s- Clanton, Mississippi to be precise. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

The John Grisham Novel and My Journalistic Life-I

I studied journalism with a hangover. In the early days at Syracuse, I aspired to be an investigative reporter with the New York Times or the Washington Post. I wanted to save the world by uncovering corruption and environmental abuse and government waste and the injustice suffered by the weak and oppressed. Pulitzers were waiting for me. After a year or so of such lofty dreams, I saw a movie about a foreign correspondent who dashed around the world looking for wars, seducing beautiful women, and somehow finding the time to write award-winning stories. He spoke eight languages, wore a beard, combat boots, starched khakis that never wrinkled. So I decided I would become such a journalist.

I grew a beard, bought some boots and khakis, tried to learn German, tried to score with prettier girls. During my junior year, when my grades began their steady decline to the bottom of the class, I became captivated by the idea of working for a small-town newspaper. I cannot explain this attraction….

I do not eat breakfast, and I’m usually not awake during the hours in which it is served. I don’t mind working until midnight, but I prefer to sleep until the sun is overhead and in full view. As I quickly realized, one of the advantages of owning a small weekly was that I could work late and sleep late. The stories could be written anytime, as long as the deadlines were met.

पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्