Do we only need hard news? We also need investigative reportage

Previously, I have read a lot of news or datas about the children education situation in Nepal, but all of these reportages only focus one side or too general.It is quite difficult for foreigners to understand what specific education situation the children in Nepal encounter now. Until I read an article Crimes in education from E-kantipur online a local media platform for foreigners as well, I gradually learn what has led to the education dilemma in this region.

Many media, both local and foreign ones, will ignore the poverty opinion or comments in editorial pages and  increasingly focus on covering typical issue. As a result, this kind of coverage method does catch the public’s attention but makes the journalists lose its responsibility.

Personally, I am in favour of this article because the author explicitly explains the elements leading to the education crime on the children.

Firstly, the writer has explored education problems from different aspects including delayed book, irresponsible teachers, uncertain examinations and over-opening permissions for new schools.

Secondly, some sensitive factors are also emerging in the article, which refers to the parties, education systems and authorities. For instance, no school dares to fire those irresponsible teachers because they belong to one major political party or the other.

Compared to the foreign media, local media takes the advantage of source and space to access to a comprehensive analysis of the problems. However the drawback may be the lack of powerful evidence.

Online news: to be credible through integrating diversified forms and source

Usually, traditional and official media are thought to be more credible than those online ones. However, when reading the article ’Children having children: no school for young brides in Nepal’ which was published on the Global Voice, a largely volunteer online community, I discovered that this shortfall could be overcome successfully.

First of all, this article wisely chose the various news sources, including authoritative organisations like UNFPA, famous fellow media like the Guardian and professional researchers like Raj Kumar Mahato. Within the text content, the source from the official authorities and fellow journalists occupy the main body of the article, which confirms conclusion in the article.

In addition, it successfully utilised different journalism forms to strengthen its credibility. Besides the texts, the article added journalistic photos and videos into the news, which efficiently explained the current situations and reason of girls’ dropout in Nepal.

Finally, it creatively screenshot the twits (including comments) and pasted them into the story. As traditional news articles, objectivity is the basic norm and journalists cannot express own opinion. However, as Logan Molyneux said in his article, retweeting focuses more on commentary rather than news. The Global Voice pasted the tweets in texts, just like another way of retweeting, By this way, journalists can obviously show their debate and criticize the child brides in Nepal.

The loss of information weaken the power of the video

Nowadays, more and more organisations or individuals have created their twitters or blogs, and uploaded various latest videos.These videos can be re-twitted and re-disseminate via the Internet. For example the ‘Child Trafficking in Nepal-2014 ’ twitted by Forgotten Children Worldwide(FCW), explicitly states the process of the illegal child trade with scene images, interviews and personal analysis.

Admittedly, the video has portrayed lovely Nepali girls and local scene. It also gives a simple introduction of the child trafficking by the executive of FCW.The video reasonable utilise the subtitle to offer supplemental instruction.

However, I think this video is not so persuasible and impressive, because it loses a lot of information.

First of all, there is no interview with children, even though there are so many beautiful girls appearing in the screen. It is necessary to include the local children’s opinions about the child trafficking in Nepal.

Secondly, the video lacks official representative to respond this issue. A woman who works for the government and takes the responsibility for checking the children at the outbound corridor does appear in the video, but doesn’t give any word.The only interviewee is a FCW’s partner worker.

As a result, I personally think this video is in failure because it makes no sense for the people. It doesn’t deliver any effective information to the public.

How to sell the compassion

Personally,when first seeing the video ‘Educate the Children (ETC)’s education work in Nepal’, which presents what they have done for the children in Nepal and calls for more help, I think it is a successful ‘advertising video’ for donation, but still with some minor drawbacks.

On one hand, after the advocacy of ‘Every child deserves go to school’, the video records the organisation’s achievements in children’s education in Nepal, like the improved school facilities, available teacher training and students’ extracurricular activities. The moving image, to some extent can reduce the aid providers’ compassion fatigue, because more and more people have started to question whether it makes sense to continue investing oversea developing region, which has been mentioned by Susan D. Moeller in her book. The visual evidence of the change in children’s education situation can persuade the public that what they have done is not in vain.

On the other hand, there is still an unreasonable distribution of the video content. The short film is almost equally divided into three parts-the state quo, achievement and appeal. Nearly 1min advocacy at the end make the video too direct and utilitarian, just like an advertisement. In addition the former two parts lack more detailed information to support.

From my point of view, it can be revised to add the length of the second part and more explicit information into the video, because these indirect means of persuading donation seem to be more appropriate for the public in contemporary society.

The potential stances of journalists: middle and upper classes

When reading two news stories both from the news media in Nepal, I discover journalists may indicate different attitudes and stances.

The first story ‘back to the village campaign’ from Nepali Times, describes the young female students in rural regions can hardly accept high-qualified education, because of deficiency of the skilled teachers and teaching facilities. Journalists use objective and rational discourse to manifest the situation. However, the second story- ‘Lost in Lambirds: The students smuggled to St Lucia deserve an answer from the state’, describes the students and their families have been cheated to spend Rs 2 million enrolling in the institution for being transferred to an American college. It is obvious to see emotional and sympathetic mood. For instance, ‘These stories show the sorry state our country and our youths are in.’ or ‘the students smuggled to St Lucia deserve an answer from the state’.

As Andrew R. Cline mentioned, what journalism actually does is serve the middle and upper classes, because of its market-driven characteristic. Journalists normally with relatively high income and reputations have developed a class bias. They will unconsciously reveal their different stances and attitudes to the different social classes.

Those students in the second articles must be the richer ones in Nepal, compared to those in the first story.As a result, the reporter emotionally blames the problematic education system, just like ‘their family members’ in the second story.

Who should take the responsibility for children’s education?

The research of ‘Representations of Poverty in British newspaper: A case of ‘othering’ the threat?’ has explained British newspapers normally prefer to attribute the responsibility to individual on the domestic problem while they usually think failed governmental elements are leading to the foreign poverty.This distinction exists in the children education problem as well.

When comparing reports regarding of children education problem in UK and Nepal on The Guardian, there is an obvious difference in the attribution of responsibility.

Among a series of The Guardian’s reports about child labour in Nepal, the article ‘How Nepal is trying to solve its blood brick problem’ explicitly points out that the Federation of Nepal Brick Industries, national government and International donors (or businesses) are all accountable for this issue. For instance, ‘Political will to change the status quo is also lacking’ or ‘…within the industry, there remains a reluctance to acknowledge that a problem exists’.

However, when referring to the domestic unequal children education, The Guardian normally attributes the responsibility to the poor families. For example, the report ‘Supporting low-income parents early on will improve children’s life chances’ reveals that ’…. working-class children can end up getting least out of the classroom even with the best intentions of teachers’.

In conclusion, this difference is just a developed country’s tool to separate itself from the poverty or the imbalanced education which are thought to be the characteristics of developing countries.

Out-of-school children in Nepal: the victim of both poverty and media

This is relevant video news source attached with the former report on The Guardian. The video explicitly describes the Blood Bricks: the children broken by Nepal’s kilns. The 4.5-minute video records when the children start to the kilns, how they make the bricks, what they eat, where they live and some simple interviews.

Compared to the texts, visual materials especially video, seem to be more persuasive to both public and authorities to take action.

According to the content of this film, the journalists have tried to include those in poverty as news source and show their respect to those out-of-school children by adding their entertainment activities and playing music while working (positive side of their life). However, as referred in the book blaming the victim: how global journalism fails those in poverty, though image news sometimes may mention vulnerable people (normally not mention), they always describe them as the hopeless and inarticulate. This video still cannot avoid this stereotyped impression. For instance, 16-year-old Bishal who brought his brothers to the kilns said to the journalist: ‘…we are poor so we need to work. We can’t eat if we don’t work. What will happen (to me)? I’m already broken. ’

As a part of the whole news report, this video is the only one, but totally focusing on the pitiful children rather than the interview of aid project staff. Consequently, it may weaken the media’s function of watchdog to supervise or remind the developed authorities of changing aid methods.