"Woman burns her boyfriend alive," a local online news portal ran a sensational news that went viral in the social media, immediately triggering a series of abusive comments about the woman in question. The news spread like wildfire, all demonizing the woman sex.
What followed was angry protests from women's rights activists against the 'media malice' against women. "The news insults the entire women's lot, as it makes a gross generalization," they said. "The media should be condemned."
Most of the media went on sensationalizing the news further. Some went on to write "woman burns man for unrequited sex". This further infuriated the women's rights activists in particular. The truth about the incident, however, was still far from clear.
One of the journalists, Rudra Subedi was not happy with the way news was being crafted and the way the NGOs were slandering the entire media fraternity. A big confrontation was impending.
"I was not convinced from any angle that the news was true," Subedi said. "Many were behind cheap sensation without checking the ground reality as it was a very sexy news to make a quick sell."
Subedi's investigation with the help of the police led to a revelation that the woman did not burn the man for sex but instead the inebriated man attempted rape with her 13-year-old daughter (from earlier husband) and he got burnt with an oil lamp in a fracas.
Subedi's investigation and the balanced news that followed did not only save the woman from being socially outcast, it also helped douse the fire that was burning following the wrong news. Subedi also cautioned the NGO activists not to criticize and demonize the entire media.
"I would have followed the insensitive bandwagon had I not oriented on Do-No-Harm approach," said Subedi, who had just attended a Do-No-Harm training from UNDP's Conflict Prevention Programme (CPP). "As a chair of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists in Banke, it quickly clicked in my mind that it is the right time I should orient my fellow journalists on Do-No-Harm and gender-sensitive approach."
Under Subedi's leadership and facilitation of Fedeartion ofNepalese Journalists, over the next one month, around 200 journalists from the local radio, FM, television and newspapers were oriented on gender-sensitive reporting and DO-NO-Harm approach.
Thanks to the DO-NO-HARM approach. It has enabled quite a few journalists like Subedi to play crucial and proactive role in promoting peace journalism which helps maintain social cohesion and avert potential conflicts at troubled times. [Story by Kamal Raj Sigdel, Photo by Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi]