UNESCO Office in Kathmandu together with Bournemouth University, UK, launched a book on disaster journalism titled “Building Media Resilience in Nepal” on 16 September 2019. The book has been co-authored by Chindu Shreedharan, Principal Academic in Journalism at BU, Einar Thorsen, Associate Professor of Journalism and Communication at BU, and Nirjana Sharma, Programme Coordinator at UNESCO Kathmandu.
At the launch, UNESCO Representative to Nepal Christian Manhart said that it was important to publish the book, which covers disaster reporting, lessons learned and how media can better prepare for the future.
“As you know, Nepal is among the countries that are most threatened by natural disasters, as it lies in a high seismic zone and landslides and floods occur frequently during every rainy season. Media that understand what disasters are about, will be able to facilitate participation of the public in preparation of disaster risk reduction policies and strategies,” he added.
The authors of the book said that the importance of disaster journalism in Nepal could not be overstated. Situated in one of the world’s most disaster-prone areas, the nation is particularly vulnerable to calamities. As the 2015 earthquake showed, it is also ill prepared. Enhancing the disaster preparedness of news media personnel is therefore of great importance to lessen the impact of future events.
Professor Chiranjivi Khanal, Head of Mass Communication and Journalism Department at Tribhuvan University, said that the university is currently working on preparing the curriculum of the Humanities and Social Sciences stream to introduce a four-year bachelor’s degree programme that covers the subject. “We want to take it as an opportunity to include environmental reporting, reporting on climate change and other disasters in the new course of study. The new course will have a chapter on the types of disasters Nepal is facing, and how the media can help communities and duty bearers to prepare on time,” Professor Khanal said.
Representatives from the Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Nepal, the Federation of Nepali Journalists, and Education and Environment Journalists expressed their views on the changes in their respective sectors, assessing what more needs to be done.
The book has also outlined recommendations to improve disaster resilience.