Dialogue on CSO-Media to Advance Public Concerns

The half day dialogue program was organized by the GoGo Foundation aiming to advance public concerns through CSO-Media collaboration, held on 23 August 2019 at Lalitpur. The event served as a massive space to bring the CSOs and media representatives along with government senior officials under one roof noble cause.

The event not only helped to talk about the public issues but also hinted the ways to advance them through joint initiation. The way forward provided by them towards the end of the program will be instrumental in bringing the issue for further discourse.

The Program Manager, Poshta KC, welcomed the participants and briefed about the GoGo Foundation while Executive Director Kedar Khadka highlighted the objective and moderated the session.

The two experts presented papers while other two commentators made their comments on the presentation. The first presentation entitled 'Constitutional Arrangement for Media-CSO, Current Practices' was made by Gunaraj Luitel, Chief Editor, Nagarik Daily while the other presentation entitled 'Constitutional Arrangement for CSO-media, Current Practices and Role of Government' was made by Krishnahahri Banskota, Chief Commissioner, National Information Commission. Krishna Murari Bhandari, Chief Executive Chairman of Gorkhapatra Daily and Kapil Kafle, Chief Editor, Samacharpatra Daily commented on the papers.

While making their presentation, both presenters shared almost common views. They said that CSOs across the country have been attacked time and again citing several reasons. There is an ill perception of elected lawmakers towards the CSOs in Nepal. CSOs can improve their image further through consolidating their efforts in service provider. Furthermore, they said that CSOs and media have stood by the politicians in ousting the monarchy and restoring democracy. But the same politicians are now questioning the legitimacy of CSOs in the nation, they lamented.

Democracy thrives when there is a massive space for civic engagement in the decision making process. But our space is dwindling in recent times. This contravenes the constitution which has clearly stipulated the freedom of association and freedom of expression as fundamental right.

The speakers such Jitram Lama, President, NGO Federation, Kumari Kharel, Consumer Activist stressed the need to narrow down the differences between CSOs and Media to sustain the democracy and human rights and walk hand in hand for advancing the citizen issues.

At the same time, they also agree that there are some shortcomings among some CSOs in the country. However, it is not logical to put them in one basket, they suggested. In response to the growing threat posed by social media over the past few years, the responded that it has its own pros and cons and it would not pose any threat to traditional print media houses. Khagnath Regmi, Assistant Director, Social Welfare Council, also echoed that due to wrongdoing of some CSOs, the legitimacy and credibility of CSOs are questioned.

The other who spoke on the occasion included Govinda Neupane, Laxman Dutta Panta, Chiranjevi Bhattarai, Naren Khatiwada, Prashant Oli, Ramesh Lama ,Bhakta Bishwakarma, Basanta Adhikari, Dayasagar Shrestha, Sanjeev Ghimire and Ram Bhattarai among others. As a way forward, they suggested that media and CSOs are the key pillars of democratic nation and both should complement each other and walk hand in hand. There is a dire need of departicization of media houses and CSOs for raising common voice on issues of people, the participants suggested.

As a concluding remark, Govinda Acharya, President, Federation of Nepalese Journalist said that the time indeed has come to bury the hatched between CSOs and media and work together. Our joint advocacy is instrumental for social transformation. He also said that there is a need to do soul searching on our part as well.