The journalists in Nepal worked at the forefront of the global crisis posed by COVID-19. Despite sheer adversity, they worked continuously to ensure citizens' right to information and free speech. But, with the closure of many media for financial paucity and some taking pandemic as an excuse, the working journalists faced a tough time being deprived of remuneration.
Many journalists were therefore forced to quit the media, left unpaid, and low paid. With this in the background, the umbrella organization of working journalists in Nepal- the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) - has decided to take together the agenda of press freedom and the rights of working journalists.
FNJ senior Vice-Chair Ramesh Bista viewed they were preparing to set up a separate mechanism at the central level to deal with and promote the labour rights of journalists. In his address to a session oranised by the FNJ Corporate Province Committee here Friday, he said the labour exploitation of journalists could not be entertained under any circumstances. "Media entrepreneurs should stop thinking that their business would go with amidst the violation of the rights of working journalists," said, stressing working journalists' financial rights must be addressed at any rate.
The session also discussed the journalists’ contemporary issues and the refining of FNJ membership. The majority of the participants stressed the need for self-correction to prevent the FNJ membership to non-journalists and to promote media professionalism.
“Political affiliation must not be the qualification of FNJ membership,” the participants were univocal while adding that the honesty and compliance with required guidelines should be there on part of the people concerned while approving and renewing the membership.
It was reiterated at the programme that a clean image of journalists and media could help prod other sectors to be clean and dignified.
The chairs of FNJ corporate chapters apprised the session of several issues like the non-payment, underpayment, cut of perks and facilities, and so on in the pretext of the COVID-19 crisis. They were of the view that once the journalists were paid as per their work, it could help hone journalism and develop professionalism.
FNJ General Secretary Roshan Puri utilised the forum to announce that FNJ is and will be against any act/ law capable of controlling and suppressing free press.
As he vowed, the FNJ current leadership would never compromise in terms of promoting the rights of working journalists and freedom of expression.
Prior to this, highlighting the objectives of the programme, FNJ Corporate Chair Balkrishna Adhikari said the event was for archiving issues of working journalists and finding a ground to set actions for the solution. The journalists who write continuously for the public good and advocate for citizens' rights can not be deprived of their own rights, he argued.