Nepali media were once on a mission to fight against autocratic system in favour of a democratic environment. Then, only brave media people could devote themselves in the venture that was full of threats. Their role in educating the public in preparation for the fight for democracy is always laudable. Had they not played the role to lead and show the path to freedom, ushering in of the democracy in the nation might have pushed further. The nation saw the fall of Rana oligarchy only to face the axe falling on democracy after one decade of democratic exercise. For the next 30 years, democratic aspirations got suppressed under Panchayat autocracy. Struggle against the draconian rule continued in which mission journalism fought against all odds to raise political awareness in the masses. Journalists had to work underground or risk their life and profession before the nation saw the restoration of democracy after three decades in 1990. This opened the door for flourishing of media professionalism and media industry.
Even the democracy hard earned for the second time had to go through ups and downs amidst the armed conflict and brief resurgent attempt of absolute monarchy. Such situations also called for renewed role of media to save democracy. Restoration of peace and democracy was on main agenda of the media during this period. As all political forces joined hands to wipe out dictatorship for good, the media played an important role to aware and organise the people for the cause of peace and democracy. It was indeed a tightrope walk to keep away from anarchism and dictatorial tendencies and ensure the firm grip of the democratic system. All along, Nepali media have blazed the path to fend off ulterior political motives and anti-democratic elements. Their effort to keep national unity and communal harmony intact is also commendable. As information is regarded as power and informed people can make wise decisions, the role of media in the 21st century is paramount. However, in an environment where the world wide web gradually starts to rule the roost, the media audience face the greater challenge of being misled and driven to confusion.
With the political stability in place and democratic institutionalisation taking shape, the focus of the government now is on attaining development and prosperity. Development and information are closely inter-related. Only well informed people can actively participate in development works. In this regard, the media have to play a changed role as per the need of the present national context. As the media is no longer fighting for ushering in democracy in the country, as it did in the past, it should focus its attention on institutionalisation of democracy, safeguarding of the constitution and encouraging people’s mobilisation in development works. Such an approach will help to attain prosperity cherished by all. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Ishwar Pokharel has indicated at media’s focus shift in this national context. In this respect, the nation should make appropriate media policy to give momentum to development and growth.