It started in 2011 as a Facebook page posting information about Nepal banda (general strike called by political parties and enforced by their vandals), load-shedding, and a few jokes. Over the years, the page would evolve into a behemoth with over 1.8 million followers—in addition to having over 700,000 Instagram followers. Routine of Nepal Banda, abbreviated RONB, is these days a popular and celebrated Facebook page for news and information.
“I usually wait for Routine of Nepal Banda to confirm news or information. When I see it posting, it is kind of ‘confirmed’ for me,” says Sudip Poudel, 27, an accountant from Kathmandu. Paudel is among the many youths who reckon RONB is a trustworthy source of information.
Nerajan KC, 21, an IT student from Kathmandu, says RONB is quite an addiction for him. “I scroll the page at least three times a day until my thirst for news, facts, photography, and other useful content is satisfied for the day.”
Likewise, RONB is a reliable source for Mishree Thapa from Chitwan who has just reached 20. “It spreads correct news, not rumors,” she says.
Victor Paudel, 26, the page admin, was pursuing a college bridge course in Kathmandu after school when he started the page. “Besides our hard work, the unique page name is also behind its popularity,” says Paudel.
The page practices citizen journalism, sourcing news and information from people from every part of Nepal, and is run by a team of volunteers spread across the country.
RONB is a reliable source of information for Nepalis at home and abroad. “It is unlike traditional sources for news and information. It is also a good platform to promote and foster hidden Nepali talents in both national and international arena,” says Madan Raj Sigdel, 24, who is currently in Sydney, Australia.
There is a two-way communication with the visitors. As per admin Paudel, “Through thousands of comments, reacts, share, and hundreds of messages, we are 24/7 connected to our readers, followers, and the general public. They are our reporters, evaluators, promoters—everything really.”
This two-way communication has helped RONB understand people’s likes and dislikes. Sometimes mistakes are corrected when someone point them out in the comments, according to Paudel.
The page does not rush to break news. If it is a little slow, that probably means it is trying to verify information. “Unless something is urgent, we don’t worry about being late. But we don’t want to give wrong information,” says Paudel. The RONB team tries to verify info through various means, including local authorities, residents, and other news sources.
Another noteworthy feature of the page is the use of short (6-7 line) paragraph posts and a simple language along with related photos. Some posts are in Roman Nepali, which many Nepalis use for texting. Even when it uses English, the language is simple enough for nearly everyone to understand.
The page claims to be engaging 3.5 million people a month. “The responses are motivating. People request us to post more often and with more detail. They want more and we are trying to constantly update ourselves,” adds Paudel.
The page also encourages photography talent and promotes Nepal’s tourism in this way. Bishal Humagain, a freelancer travel/landscape photographer from Lalitpur, says the page has proven to be a great platform for him to showcase his skills, right since the start of his career.
Maybe due to its wide following, RONB contents become viral in no time. Encouraged by its success, the RONB has now registered as a media company, and is planning a full-fledged news portal. The team is developing an app too.
Currently, the page survives on advertisements from movies, events, and private businesses. “We have multiple teams looking after different things. Our success depends on teamwork,” adds Paudel.
He considers the infancy of social media and poor internet bandwidth as major problems for Nepali online media.
As it is not an official media portal, RONB is also facing some difficulties, for instance in its inability to access political content. It is hard to cover the field as a Facebook page, Paudel says.
The new news portal should take care of that, and RONB’s growth and popularity could further grow.