October 17, 2017

Unbending approach to life

Unbending approach to life

Even after a minor bike accident in 2008 paralyzed him for life, Gajendra Budathoki restored his faith and decided to work with extreme rigor. Dedicated to the field of media for 22 years now, he is Nepal’s first wheelchair-bound journalist and news editor of Karobar Economic Daily. 

Having written numerous articles on national economic issues, Gajendra has so far penned two books called ‘20 Years of Economic Liberalization’ and ‘Contemporary Nepalese Economy’. He has also worked with various daily newspapers, periodicals, and online news agencies like Nepal Samcharpatra, Rajdhani, Dainikee.com, Karobar Economic Daily besides serving as a visiting lecturer at Tribhuvan University. 

At the tender age of 25, he received the Developing Asia Journalism Award in Japan, in 2004 followed by various awards from Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), Press Council Nepal, Rotary International, Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF), ICT Association of Nepal, and Reporters Club Nepal. He was also conferred the National Journalism Award by the government in 2017.

My City’s Sonam Lama caught up with Gajendra Budathoki to talk about his experiences and setbacks throughout his journey.

What challenges did you face during your professional journey?
Back when I was starting my career, the practice of journalism was not what it is like today. We had minimal payment, lack of ample resources along with numerous other challenges to deal with. There were times when I had to get news keeping my life at stake.

Although the accident in 2065 changed my priorities in many ways, I gathered up the courage to follow my passion. I’ve always wanted that my writings make an impact on people, so I made sure to maintain professionalism and ethics while writing on issues of public interest. Earlier, we could not carry out rigorous and in-depth reporting due to the lack of resources.

Has the scope of journalism changed over the decades?
The area of journalism has barely witnessed any development over the decades. It is vital that journalists are provided with myriad resources to conduct impactful reporting.

However, these requirements are unattained and it eventually invites loopholes in the development process. Our media still works old school. The works that a journalist carries out are hindered in many ways. Above all the hindrances that persist, lack of resources as well as professionalism and political interference are the reasons why journalism in Nepal is still lagging behind.

What changes have you come across following the accident?
Though the incident invited a life-long disability, my life has also changed in good ways. I definitely recollect my initial struggles as a reporter and more of a wonderer nevertheless the fact that I have not yet given up on my passion.

Although I have to go through some inconveniences and limitations, I have enjoyed working for research papers with full attention and determination. Regardless of circumstances, you have to do an impactful work. Driven by this thought, I try to give my best through the research works I carry out being at home. 

What measures can be adopted to improve journalism in Nepal?
More than expecting changes from external sources, I believe everyone should primarily abide by the ethics and media code of conducts on an individual level. Since journalists are mediators of society, they should be aware of the fact that any sort of misconduct could hamper an entire society. Moreover, proper mediums and resources should be at their disposal with their rights being excessively protected.

Would you like to convey any message to the readers?
With many young generations approaching the field of media, it becomes crucial for them to follow the ethics and professionalism in order for journalism to reach heights. Acknowledging the significant role of a mediator, a media person should try to avoid hearsay, prioritize factual details and try to deliver unbiased information extracted from observation and research. In order to excel in any area of work one should learn to step out of the comfort zone and work hard with diligence and honesty. 

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