Journalism in transition: Media, information flows and conflict in Nepal

This report is designed to understand the role of the media in influencing public understanding of the dynamics of violence and developing perceptions of security in Nepal.

Nepal has been pursuing a complex peace process and political transition since the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) of November 2006, which brought its ten-year armed conflict to an end.

With the election of a Constituent Assembly in 2008, discussions began to focus on writing a new constitution, completing the peace process, institutionalising democracy and safeguarding the achievements made thus far. However, in response to differences on key issues among political parties since the CPA, the transitional period has been repeatedly extended. Increasing impunity and political interference in security have severely affected the security situation in the country. In addition, new armed groups formed in the Terai1 and eastern hill districts have also contributed to increasing insecurity in the country.

Just as important as the realities of crime and violence at any given moment are the information flows surrounding those realities, which govern popular perceptions of conflict and criminal violence. Media and mechanisms for information flows, in all their forms – official, informal or street rumours – have major impacts on levels of insecurity and prospects for peace. They can, on the one hand, drive a cycle of fear and prejudice and, in their most extreme forms, may propel people towards violence. On the other hand, they can also shape public understanding of the dynamics of violence and harness or encourage peaceful means to address them.