Media as the custodian of people
Ravish Kumar, group editor of NDTV India, opened the Himal Media Mela with his keynote speech on the Connectivity in the Age of Disinformation, commenting on the state of media in South Asia, and across the world.
Journalist Chandra Kishore, Chair of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, introduced the Ramon Magsaysay Award-winning television journalist, describing him as a beacon of journalism for people at the margins dominated by political and corporate interests.
Kumar commented on the state of Indian media, describing it as a ‘militia without a gun’ that is in a class of its own even among the bad examples that litter the history of global media.
The journalist noted how the development of media technology had informed traditional and social media, and led to the evolution of a ‘WhatsApp University’ which spreads disinformation.
“There is a myth that the information revolution went on to aid democracy around the world, and that might have been the case in the beginning,” he said, adding that the internet soon came to be dominated by the same corporate interests as traditional media.
Kumar warned Nepal must be on constant alert for any contradictions and compromises that the press needs to make that will eventually take away the essence of the press and the meaning for the profession.
“Across the world, the press is being weakened in countries led by those who are called ‘global leaders’, and those who pride themselves on being a free press,” says Kumar.
"Nepali media is one of the freer media today, and that comes with a responsibility to find methods to educate ourselves on how to be citizens,” said the award-winning journalist, urging the public to read, question, and fact-check every information that they come across.
“Make the effort to find multiple sources of information.”
"Just because some democracies are powerful does not mean they always deliver the truth it is the socio-political climate determines what the mainstream press and digital media platform choose to amplify.”
“Those who own media are not involved in the struggle for press freedom,” said Kumar, “ The responsibility for media content lies not on corporations, but squarely on the citizens who bear the most consequences from it.”
Said Kumar: “The self cannot be enslaved in the name of freedom, which has its own pace. Sometimes freedom may seem absent or lost, but it always comes back.”
Kumar’s keynote speech was followed by a signing of his book (pictured above) The Free Voice: On Democracy, Culture and the Nation in English and its Nepali translation.