BU helps leading news publisher adopt Nepal’s first disaster journalism policy

Two Bournemouth University (BU) academics, Dr Chindu Sreedharan and Professor Einar Thorsen, have played a key role in developing a disaster journalism editorial policy for a leading media house in Nepal.

Reporting Disasters: Code of Conduct and Editorial Guidelines, the first policy that specifically addresses the disaster resilience needs of the Nepali news industry, has been adopted by the Kamana Group, a leading news publisher in Kathmandu.

Kathmandu, Nepal.

The policy is in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and in the aftermath of 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, both of which have had a significant impact on journalism in the country.

The editorial policy was launched jointly by Professor Thorsen, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Media and Communication at BU and Direk Lal Shrestha, President and CEO of Kamana Group.

Mr Shrestha thanked BU academics for working with the Kamana Group on the policy. “The work that we did with Bournemouth University was enlightening,” he said.

“We will make sure that this policy is implemented in all our publications, and that our staff is equipped with disaster response tools.”

Speaking at the launch, Professor Thorsen highlighted the importance of disaster preparedness in risk reduction. He said: “Covering disasters is sadly a regular event for Nepal’s journalists, yet newsrooms in Nepal lack clear policies to guide them in their reporting. This policy will help steer disaster reporting and safeguard journalists while they work on hostile environments.”

The policy is one of several outputs from RIENMMR, BU’s Covid-related rapid response research and capacity building project. Dr Sreedharan, the principal investigator for RIENMMR, described the launch as a significant step in strengthening the disaster resilience of Nepali journalists.

Dr Sreedharan, who led the development of the editorial policy, said: “Much of the work done in Nepal has focused on the individual, physical safety of journalists. Our research, however, had highlighted the need for looking beyond that, at developing more strategic measures to strengthen newsrooms and the news environment in Nepal. The policy that Kamana has adopted is a critical step in that direction.”

Besides the current Covid-19 crisis, Nepal experiences natural disasters frequently. The most notable among such calamities was the 2015 earthquakes which killed around 9,000 and displaced millions. The research undertaken by Dr Sreedharan and Professor Thorsen was in the wake of the 2015 earthquake. Their work has led to several interventions in Nepal to strengthen resilience among journalists including the creation of a disaster journalism network. The BU team has also completed a study on the effects of Covid-19 on journalists in Nepal, and the report based on the findings of the study was recently released by Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada, Nepal’s Honourable Minister of Finance, and Communication and Information Technology.