From the frontlines

- Timothy Aryal, Kathmandu

Jul 16, 2017-Photojournalist Kiran Panday’s shot taken during the Jana Aandolan welcomed one at the photography exhibition, Journalism and Safety, at the first floor of Nepal Art Council, in Babermahal. The photograph has as its subjects a photojournalist wearing a red helmet sprinting to the left; bare-footed protesters in the middle, behind them a spread of slippers and shoes; and behind them in the background, a cluster of police chasing them. The caption beneath the photo runs: “Photojournalists run for safety from the riot during Jana Aandolan II at Teku in Kathmandu on April 15, 2006.” 

A few steps away was a signboard featuring cutouts from newspapers and portals. The headlines go: “Police breaks Kathmandu Today photojournalist Aale’s camera”; “Petrol bomb fired at photojournalists in RR Campus”, and so forth. 

The photo exhibition was divided into four sections: A) Photojournalism in Tough Job; B) Insecure Working Conditon; C) Attacks and Damages; D) Advocacy for Safety. 

Some photos featured men with lenses climbing up fences waiting for the perfect shot; a photojournalist handling a wounded friend with one hand and with another trying to capture a shot; and, one shot, perhaps the most appealing of all, featured a photojournalist emerging heroically from the thick cloud of tear gas, like a protagonist in a war film. The photo was taken by Deepak Tolange during the scuffle between Maoists and the police in May, 2010. 

The exhibition was organised jointly by Photojounalists’ Club of Nepal and International Media Support (IMS)—a non-profit organisation that works towards supporting local media in countries affected by conflicts—in order to raise awareness for the safety of photojournalists in Nepal and to ensure greater understanding of the profession. A statement issued by the club acknowledges the changes that happened after the Peace Accord of 2006, but laments that “the safety of photojournalists is often not put into discussion on journalists’ safety, despite photojournalists being in greater safety risks (given they need to be present on the spot of violence).” 

The exhibit was one that left the visitor with an increased sense of empathy for photojournalists and made one wish the stakeholders too visited it and accordingly formulated necessary plans for the safety of photojournalists. 

The two-day exhibition, which was inaugurated by the Speaker of the House Onsari Gharti Magar on Friday, drew to a close on Saturday. 

Published: 16-07-2017 09:09

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