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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Special editorial: Stop shooting the messenger, a call to CIAA

Stop shooting the messenger

The public does not need the reminder that it is media's job to report and delve into things both palatable and unpalatable to those in power. Therefore, people know yellow journalism for sure when they see one but do not confuse a serious and responsible journalism for yellow journalism.

Some constitutional bodies in the country, however, seem to need that  reminder. Yellow journalism is not a term that you label for something that is objectionable to you or something that simply hurts your ego. Its definition is altogether different. And a constitutional body like Commisssion for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is not the right institution to make the assertion as to who is doing yellow journalism; they would be better off identifying sycophantic journalism and distancing from it. Constitutionall bodies have their responsibilities cut out in the constitution, they are supposed to execute those, nothing more and nothing less. Any amount of verbose activism does not replace that duty.

The issue in question here is, the CIAA, the powerful constitutional body designed for checking all sorts of 'abuse of authority' in the country doing everything but its job. When its inaction and lackluster way was pointed rather consistently by a newspaper (less consistent reporting of similar kind has been there in many media outlets for long), the constitutional body has come down to mudslinging and making allegations of 'yellow journalism'. That is a classic case of shooting the messenger.

I wish it were not. I wish the media were indeed indulging in yellow journalism rather than a crucial constitutional body bungling its job. That would be much less costly to the country. Sadly, it is the other way round.

Now that they have dirtied their hands indulging in fingerpointing instead of introspection, I'm going to dig deeper on the issue, dealing with near-fatal inaction of CIAA and some other constitutional bodies in crucial issues bogging down the entire Nepali society. Hungry and shivering citizens have not been providing for the perks of those officials through taxes for nothing. As we are the ones who pay for the handsome salary and allowances of Chief Justice or the CIAA chief, we have every right to question if they are doing their job. Such questioning becomes even more important when they stoop as low as shooting the messenger not even expecting a backlash. There is very little to go before we enter the era of absolute impunity in the country.

You can do only one thing at a time: do your duty well or pretend to be doing it well. Shooting the messenger is the job of the one who spends all his time pretending doing his duty, not doing it. Whatever the attempts at publicity, the two do not go together because of their mutually exclusive nature. The sooner those in power (including in constitutional bodies) realize it, the better.

Jiwan Kshetry
Editor, South Asia and Beyond

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