Charu ChadhaEditor, WOW & Business 360
How I Became a Journalist?
I am the editor of Business 360 – a leading business and management magazine based on the ideals of free markets and liberalism and WOW a leading women’s magazine under the Media 9 publishing house. Prior to this, I was associated with Specialty Media for more than ten years, and before that worked as a freelance journalist, photographer and documentary film maker with various national and international media. I has travelled extensively and also been invited on speaking assignments at various liberal forums. I was also associated briefly with the hospitality industry in Nepal. Besides writing I enjoys trekking, photography, books, music and travelling.
Nepal Press Institute has broadened its outreach to create not just job skills but life skills through the courses it offers in journalism, especially in strengthening the role of women journalists in Nepal . I am privileged to be associated in my learning through NPI.
I have been associated with the media for about 22 years. I still remember a relative asking me what work I did and when I said I was a photo journalist, he asked me again, “Yes, that’s fine, but what career do you really want to pursue? What are you going to do with your life?” At that time, I just shrugged it away. Many people just could not relate to my choice of career. It was not just me, there were other contemporaries who faced the same deluge of questions about getting serious about our careers. Journalism was simply not considered a career. And yet, there were hundreds of young people who felt a sense of purpose and passion in choosing journalism. I was just turning 19 then.
I began my career in journalism by chance. I would like to believe that my career chose me. The course I was able to do through CWD and NPI was a turning point in my life as it has been for many other young women journalists. Being offer with a gender perspective allowed broadening our thoughts in understanding communication issues which is often seen and addressed differently by men and women.
Accompanying a friend on a media course conducted by CWD and NPI, I was trying to utilize my team with no idea that this would be the turning point in my life. My friend dropped out of the course three months into it and I stayed on to ace the exams. Seeing my byline in the first page of the only national daily fueled my sense of accomplishment and purpose further. There were limited areas to explore and expand on my career, but that did not deter me. Four of us from the same batch actually went on to establish a magazine called Sangini – a women’s magazine with funding from Canadian Cooperation Office.
The influx of privately run newspapers, FM and television channels, over the years, has seen journalism transcend several boundaries and online media has only added to its appeal. More women today are successfully running and holding key positions with media houses globally. I don’t think pursuing a degree in communications or media studies is questioned today at all in the current time. In fact there is a certain level of prestige attached to it.
Personally, my gender has never stood in the way of anything I have chosen to do. I believe that looking for differences and putting them into boxes is what creates discrimination. When you choose to categorize and look for the difference – black, white, brown, male, female, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, gay, bisexual, rich, poor, powerful, just another person on the street, etc… that’s when real discrimination begins. How many of us actually have meaningful conversations individual to individual.
My concern today in journalism is not about what we report, but how we report it. The mediums are faster – within seconds stories can be disseminated throughout the globe with just the click of a button. There are hundreds of versions of the same story. But what is the truth? What is the story behind the person? Are we personally responsible when we write, share and tell a story? Are we balanced in our views? Do we understand the full implications of what we are sending out to the world?
Advancing the ideas of freedom, free markets and liberty is what inspires me to write. I believe that journalism has its set of challenges in Nepal but we have come a long way. I envision more and more young women coming forward and leaving a mark in this field even as we make a difference to the future of our country through informed and analytical news.
(Compiled by Padmasana Shakya)