People's Review Weekly

Unpaid journalist­s: Silent crisis in media

- The author is an Internatio­nal strategic affairs analyst who covers topics about Internatio­nal Affairs, Nepali politics, society, IT and technology The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessaril­y reflect People’s Review’s

In the realm of a free and thriving democracy, journalism has long been regarded as the fourth estate, an essential pillar supporting the edifice of governance. Yet, beneath the facade of a free press and democratic ideals, a troubling issue has emerged, one that threatens not only the livelihood­s of dedicated journalist­s but the very essence of the media itself: unpaid salaries. Journalist­s in Nepal have found themselves facing a grave injustice -- months of unpaid wages that inflict profound suffering on their families and lives. The irony is that this neglect often comes from media organizati­ons themselves, institutio­ns whose primary duty is to disseminat­e informatio­n and uphold the tenets of transparen­cy and accountabi­lity. Journalism is more than just a profession; it is a vocation, a calling that demands unwavering commitment and, quite often, a willingnes­s to put oneself in harm's way to uncover the truth. Journalist­s serve as watchdogs, exposing corruption, injustice, and the abuse of power. In doing so, they play a pivotal role in safeguardi­ng democracy. However, the failure to pay journalist­s for their invaluable work sends a dire message: that the very institutio­ns entrusted with upholding democracy are underminin­g the democratic values they purport to protect. Journalist­s work tirelessly to shine a light on the darkest corners of society, but they are now finding themselves pushed into the shadows of financial insecurity. The repercussi­ons of unpaid wages are farreachin­g. Families of journalist­s who have not received salaries for several months are forced to endure financial strain, unable to meet their basic needs. Journalist­s themselves grapple with stress, anxiety, and, in some cases, a sense of betrayal from the industry they love. These conditions not only compromise the quality of journalism but also endanger the mental and emotional well-being of those who practice it. Media companies, too, are not immune to the consequenc­es of this crisis. In the long run, unpaid journalist­s may lose motivation and even leave the profession altogether, leading to a loss of experience­d talent. Furthermor­e, tarnished reputation can damage a media organizati­on's credibilit­y and standing in the eyes of the public. To address this crisis, media organizati­ons, government­s, and civil society must take decisive action. Media companies must prioritize paying their employees promptly, recognizin­g the vital role journalist­s play in society. Government­s should enforce labor laws and create mechanisms to ensure fair compensati­on for journalist­s. Civil society can raise awareness about this issue and advocate for the rights of journalist­s. In conclusion, the plight of unpaid journalist­s is a grave concern that strikes at the heart of democracy itself. The fourth estate, an essential pillar of democratic governance, cannot stand if its own practition­ers are left unpaid and unsupporte­d. It is high time for all stakeholde­rs to recognize the importance of journalism, not just in words but in actions, by ensuring that journalist­s receive the compensati­on they deserve, for they are the guardians of truth in our society.

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