Federation of Nepali Journalists : Past and Present
Federation of Nepali Journalists is an umbrella organization that represents all professional journalists in Nepal. It was established on March 29, 1956 (Chaitra 16, 2012 BS) with the name ‘Nepal Journalist Association’. Its Founder President was Krishna Prasad Bhattarai who was the then Editor of ‘Nepal Pukar Weekly’.
If we trace further back, another organization with a similar name was formed under the Chairmanship of Satyanarayan Shrestha way back in Jestha 2008. This was nothing but the result of the newly-developed democratic environment after the establishment of democracy in 1951 (2007 BS), when professional journalism in Nepal was still in its nascent stage. But this association did not get any continuity. Therefore, March 29, 1956 (Chaitra 16, 2012) is regarded as the official date of FNJ’s inception. No activity, on the part of the association formed in 2008 BS, can be seen from 2008 to 2012 BS. This testifies its inactiveness. So, the historical account here concerns with the association that was born in 1956. 2012 BS.
Immediately after its establishment, FNJ started organizing different programs throughout the kingdom in order to consolidate and promote and professional journalism strengthen the foundation of embryonic democracy in Nepal. It was conscious of the grave role it had to play for the upliftment of Nepalese society.
A team from the central committee was sent to visit Europe and USSR in 2013 BS. This was the first ever official visit by Nepalese journalists to foreign countries. And this was very fruitful. This ushered in a new age in the history of Nepalese journalism by initiating close ties at the international level. Towards the end of 2013 BS, Dataram Sharma was elected as the second president of FNJ, who continued in office for two successive years. And then Mr Gopal Das Shrestha were elected as a president of 2015 BC. for two years.
Nepalese Journalism faced a brief threat in Poush 2017 (1961) when democracy was usurped. Many active journalists were arrested and put behind the bars. Among the high profile ones were Fatte Bahadur Singh, Tarini Prasad Koirala, Ramesh Nath Pande and Gopal Prasad Bhatta. Reputed dailies of those days were shuttred. Thus, Nepalese Journalism came to a standstill at this point and became severely handicapped. It had to pass through a considerably long and dark phase before the atmos phere for publications could be restored.
Fatte Bahadur Singh was elected as the president of FNJ in 2018 B.S. Then followed Pashupati Dev Pandey in 2023, Manindra Raj Shrestha in 2025 and Gopal Das Shrestha in 2027. In the mean time, a more liberal Press Policy was declared by the government and an important progress was made by establishing the Press Council. FNJ had played the role of a catalyst in accomplishing these historic feats. Then, Gokarna Raj Pande in 2030 BS, Indu Kant Sharma in 2033 BS and Manju Ratna Shakya in 2035 BS were elected for the coveted post of FNJ’s President. During this period, though FNJ played a constructive role in establishing the Press Council and contributed a great deal to the promotion of journalism in association with different press commissions, it could take no concrete steps to maintain press freedom , which was curbed after the abolition of multi-party system in 2017 BS.
A score of events during this dark phase clearly manifest the sycophancy of the Federation in the subsequent years. The leadership became more a follower of the autocratic rulers than a critic. This betrayed the feelings and aspirations of many serious media people in a sense, FNJ failed to represent the journalists at this point. Especially, after 2036 BS FNJ was badly affected by holiganism (Mandale Prabritti) Thus, the people who were in favor of professional and disciplined journalism gradually drifted away from the federation. The federation did not seem active during the period though it was headed by Nirmal Kumar Aryal in 2039 BS and again by Manju Ratna Shakya in 2042 BS. However, some senior journalists made relentless effort to identify FNJ as the apex media organisation in Nepal. In this course, a national level convention of journalists was held in 2043 at Thapathali branch of Rotaray Club. But, unfortunately, the police interfered with the convention. Some participants were severely wounded and some others were arrested. Neverthless, this congregation declared the two preceding leaderships of FNJ to be illegitimate and reorganised it under the Presidentship of Mani Raj Upadhyaya. It decided to lead the then ongoing struggle for press freedom. Two -third of the professional journalists were in favour of the FNJ headed by Mr. Upadhyaya– they had strong support and belief in his leadership. Still, the rulers of those days did not recognize the essence of the Federation. Gobind Biyogi succeeded Mr. Upadhyaya in 2045 and continued upto Chaitra 8, 2049. FNJ extended its strong support to the popular mass movement in 2046 BS, (1990) since it (March, 1993) thought the restoration of democracy was an inevitable precondition for the freedom of the press.
FNJ did all it could to give a momentum to the popular movement. It not only strongly defied the attacks on press but also actively diversified the movement. It also played a remarkable role in drafting the present constitution.
In the sixteenth General Assembly of the Federation, held on Chaitra 9, 2049 BS, (March, 1993) in Biratnagar, Hom Nath Dahal was elected the President. He was succeeded by Harihar Birahi Baishakh 16, 2052 BS (May, 1996) in the seventeenth General Assembly held in Jhapa.
After the restoration of democracy, journalism field in Nepal found a completely new dimension. Accordingly its responsibility also increased along with the changed political situation.
Journalists could now organize themselves on the basis of subjects, principles etc. They were now endowed with an open environment. Different media and journalism related organisations began to spawn. With this, a necessity was felt for bringing all these organisations and media personnel under a single national umbrella. The number of journalists too had increased manifold after the restoration of democracy. District level branches of the Association (it was yet to evolve formally as a federation) were extensively established throughout the country. Later, it was thought that the time had finally come to develop the then Nepal Journalists Association into a Federation. The Central Committee introduced the concept of a Federation into the constitution of the Association. The Association was officially announced the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) on Ashad 11, 2053 (June, 1996) at the presence of some of its founder members. All these were accomplished during the presidentship of Harihar Birahi. He is, therefore, regarded as the first President of the FNJ as it in recogniged today. changed Federation.
The annual meeting held in Dharan on Jestha 28 and 29 of 2053 BS endorsed the constitution of the Federation. Kishore Nepal was elected as the President of FNJ in its 18th General Assembly held on Bhadra 30, 2054 BS. Likewise, the 19th General Assembly held on 9 Mangshir 2056 BS had elected Suresh Acharya as the President. The author had the privilege of succeeding Mr Acharya after the 20th general Assembly held in May, 2002.
FNJ now has a 45 year old history and over the years it has passed through many ups and downs. But now it has evolved as a strong organization. So much so that its member branches have reached 60 and over 3500 journalists are now actively associated with it. It has already built its own office building in The Media Village established in joint cooperation with the Press Council. The process of building the offices of its district branches is on. This proves that FNJ is no more a commonplace NGO.
i. To organize and unite the journalists working in different fields of mass media throughout the country, and provide them with professional leadership.
ii. To represent the interests of journalists and to preserve their rights.
iii. To develop responsible, accountable and disciplined journalism and thereby respect the principles of press liberty.
iv. To maintain friendly relationship with national and international media organizations and exchange representatives with them.
v. To conduct study, investigation, seminars, trainings, symposium etc. on subjects related to journalism.
vi. To take other necessary steps for the betterment of journalism in Nepal.
Along with this, there are 3 categories of members in the FNJ. regular members, associate members and honorary members. Except the honorary members others can vote or be the nominees in the respective process.
The branches with general and associate membership can elect the representatives of central council at 5:1 or 20 percent ratio. These are the people who are allowed to take part in the central General Assembly of the Federation.
FNJ always aspires to accomplish the objectives determined by its constitution. These are the basis of its functions. The foremost function of FNJ is to preserve and promote the freedom of the press in Nepal and to foster journalism as a whole. It also carries out different programs to promote professional journalism and protect the rights and privilleges of all occupational journalists. Maintaining the ethics of journalism is yet another grave responsibility of FNJ. It also conducts trainings in order to enhance the journalistic expertise of media personnel so that they can walk along with the international standard. Other than these, FNJ has always been pioneering in the formulation and implementation of policies related to mass media.
It has already been mentioned that the Federation of Nepali Journalists is the umbrella organization with representation of all sorts of journalists in Nepal. It is worth mentioning that FNJ is not only concerned with journalists, it is also equally attentive to the problems faced the concerned entrepreneurs. It also plays a role in sorting out the disputes in transmission, publicity distribution system, advertisement and so forth.
In a nutshell, FNJ plays the role of a Press Police by ensuring the well-being of the press personnel and also of the press entrpreneurs, by formulating press policies and upholding the principle of an independent press.
It is a matter of pride for the Nepali journalists that nowhere in the whole world exists such an organization that incorporates media men from every background of media-print, electronic and cyber. The development of such an organization that represents all the segments of media on a professional level is certainly a remarkable achievement.
Everyone concerned should be extremely sensitive toward making FNJ a common association for protecting the privileges of all Nepalese media personnel. This attitude will ensure and diversify the existence of FNJ forever. The office of FNJ is situated at Sanchar Gram, Tilganga, Which is near Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport.
Main Agenda of FNJ:
- Protection of Freedom of press and the freedom expression.
- Implementation of working Journalists law
- Formation of Right to Information Act
- Implementation of code of conduct
- Protection of journalists
- Formation of new mass communication policy
- Mobilization of press for social development
- Formation of national Advertisement Policy and Program
- Skill development of Journalists
- Development of Media village
- National policy for the smooth movement and distribution of the press materials and production