"Are you blogging this?"

Well I am now, prompted by the question from one of the organisers.

I’m in Fredrikstad in Norway at the Norwegian Institute of Journalism conference on Free Media. (The conference will be blogged, apparently, but starting only on the second of the two days.)

The morning sessions were fascinating – veteran Nepali journalist and media activist Kanak Dixit talked about the role of journalists in the so-called Rhododendron Revolution and Babita Basnet talked about women’s participation in media.

Kanak Dixit talked about the egalitarian nature of Nepali print journalism – how everyone from a minister to a rickshaw driver might read the same paper and it would be in Nepali, not English; that the class split in journalism seen over most of South Asia (English for the aspiring middle and upper-middle classes, other languages for the rest) is not the case in Nepal where, he says, journalists are very close to the people. He asked whether journalists were leading the people in their thirst for democracy and peace or whether the people were leading the journalists.

Babita Basnet talked about the extreme under-representation of women in the media environment in Nepal but said there were more women entering the radio field which was a positive development.

Nepal has fallen off the mainstream media agenda since the events of April/May this year but Global Voices is still passing on what the bloggers are saying.

Now there is a debate entitled “Media Support, a viable path towards democracy?”. I am finding this less interesting, to be perfectly honest. A panel of three men standing up one after the other and reading prepared talks. Empower the people, say I. Citizen media. But then I would.

Panel discussion

In an institute of journalists it wouldn’t be entirely surprising for a citizen media activist to be seen as something of an enemy. I’m here to talk about Global Voices and Blogging and Democratic Values but I’ve been told journalists here are particularly interested in the “gatekeeper” role between blogs and the mainstream media. Which in some circles can be code for “will you bloggers be putting us out of a job?”

Such a contrast to last week’s conference in Hungary which I still haven’t really written about. Here there is a small lecture theatre with eight rows of seats. In Tihany we were in a converted squash hall, 1000 delegates, two large auditoriums, parallel sessions. I’m such a nooob on the conference circuit it’s all fascinating to me.

This afternoon – sessions about Africa. Off now to lunch, if there’s any left.

3 Replies to “"Are you blogging this?"”

  1. There is a peculiar problem when it comes to tracking the blogs in Nepal. Firstly, there are a few major blogs and not a large number of them. Second, there are a large number of people who are are not from Nepal who write about Nepal since they live there – while their opinion is valuable, it skews the representation in the blogosphere. Third, while expat and diaspora have an important role to play as their viewpoint sometimes maintains that fine balance between the insider-outsider perspective dichotomy, viewpoints from the field become missing. That is to say, that the reflection of aspirations on blogs can be a bit misleading. While it it is true for a large number of blogospheres, when it comes to a lean internet connection within Nepal – the problems is magnified further.

    But as with anything else, the blogosphere is growing slowly and definitely.

  2. Thanks Neha! that’s a really valuable perspective on blog representation of the situation. However at least the conversation’s still taking place there whereas the mainstream media in the west seems very little interested in the continuum of the story rather than the fireworks of change.

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