in Nepal, journalism is the most challenging profession
NAME: Manju Mishra, PhD
LOCATION: Kathmandu, Nepal
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I run the College of Journalism and Mass Communication (CJMC) in Kathmandu, and I am the founder Chairperson. CJMC is a pioneer in Nepalese media education. We are the first college to run a Masters in mass communication and journalism, a Masters in development communication, and a Bachelor degree in mass communication and Journalism. We started first FM Station in the country, the college run CJMC FM 106 MHz. CJMC is 15 years old. Prior to this, I lived in Moscow for 14 years and in Dubai for 3 years. I was awarded my PhD in mass communications by Patrice Lumumba University, Moscow.
WHY DID THIS TYPE OF WORK INTEREST YOU, AND HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
I got started in journalism because I always had this desire to express myself. But education was elusive in the 1980’s in Nepal. There were not many good colleges in the country. In order to get a comprehensive understanding of journalism I realized I had to go abroad. I received a scholarship to study masters in journalism at Moscow. I lived, worked and studied in Moscow for 14 years. I worked for Radio Moscow. I returned to Nepal at the age of 37. Nepal had changed, however a few things remained the same – in our mindset. Patriarchal impulses were very acute in our society; the very idea of women working office jobs was disapproved of by the other half. The society had not yet embraced and acknowledged the need for women to rise and stand as equals. Although I had a PhD, it did not mean much in Nepal. I felt I had to prove myself, and having realized there was this massive need for media education in the country, I started CJMC with a mere 250 US dollars.
Initially, when I needed money for a library and computers for the college, I knocked on the doors of many donor agencies and international NGO’s working for women’s empowerment in Nepal but to no avail – I felt? it was all a façade. But slowly, opportunities for receiving assistance presented, in many forms.
It is critical we persevere without expectation; follow our passion without any insistence on the outcome and the universe shall come forward to support us in our endeavor. I was determined to challenge this male dominated media society in Nepal. If you dream, you can do it.
Today CJMC is an entrepreneur in five different areas of media education. We have also received PhD fellowship from Makarere University under our various exchange programs.
WHAT PART OF THIS JOB DO YOU PERSONALLY FIND MOST SATISFYING? MOST CHALLENGING?
When I come across people working in mainstream media I find it most challenging, because our journalists are so lowly paid but still they pay to get an education in journalism. I find satisfaction when I see tangible improvements as result of my actions. The most challenging thing in today’s world is to initiate an idea into action without money. We realize only then how almost everything is arbitrated by money. We entrepreneurs find great satisfaction in putting our creativity to the test, to finds way to make things happen, without money.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE AND NOT LIKE ABOUT WORKING IN THIS INDUSTRY?
The media industry in Nepal is in its initial stages of development. The industry is not sufficiently regulated and I believe that incompetent media personnel outnumber educated journalists. Journalists are paid minimal wages and, as a result, money has been allowed to dictate the content of our news.
However, women’s participation in our media is truly encouraging and competition between media houses has ensured fresh news and fresh perspectives. Meanwhile, colleges are sprouting like mushrooms amidst poor regulation and running a media-only college in Nepal is certainly proving to be a challenge. I find satisfaction working in this industry, although in countries like Nepal this is the most challenging profession.
WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS?
My long term goal is to establish the Communication University of Nepal (CU Nepal) in order to bring an end to the “old-schooling” of journalism in education in Nepal and to re-evaluate our teaching practices and academic standards. The campaign has run for a decade. I want this university to be an Asian Center for Media Excellence. We would be then be free to introduce different subjects into our courses. I believe once I achieve my goal, the international community will be more flexible, and work with me in areas of mutual interest.
I am also working actively to establish an Africa Research Center which will explore Africa in Nepal to conduct research on an entire continent that represents 54 nations of the world. We have already started the Africa Film Festival, which has run since 2011 with a theme, Africa through African Lens.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL WORDS OF WARNING OR ENCOURAGEMENT AS A RESULT OF YOUR EXPERIENCE?
I encourage everyone to re-examine their beliefs and get rid of any mindset that has the capacity to weaken their resolve for change and progress. I encourage everyone to commit to their passion. I am very result-oriented and very committed on doing the things that I set out to do. This way of operating has been an asset for me and I encourage everyone to do the same. I encourage people to travel a lot. I have travelled to 35 countries; I consider this to be my second degree – it has given me much confidence and a mature and grounded outlook on life. Also, it’s imperative that we always find ways to innovate and be creative in dealing with life situations. A creative person always has a greater probability of succeeding. I feel if we have a vision, a commitment to that vision and then a clear strategy to execute that vision, we won’t need many warnings and reminders about staying on course.
Articles about Dr Mishra’s work