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Covid-19 pandemic: The role of print media in Nepal

Covid-19 pandemic: The role of print media in Nepal
After the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic across the globe, news related to the virus were published on the basis of various assumptions. The media around the world published various stories about the development of the coronavirus, the way it infects people, and the effects it has on the infected. Some of the news were true, while others were confusing. For the first time in Nepal, the infection was confirmed in a student on January 24, 2020. According to the updated statistics of the Ministry of Health and Population, 12,000 people have died in Nepal due to Covid-19. Similarly, the infection has been confirmed in around 1.3 million. When the virus spread, I studied the news related to corona published in the print media of Nepal like Gorkhapatra Daily, Annapurna Post Daily, and Naya Patrika Daily to study the impact of Covid-19 on all sectors.

A total of 369 news related to Covid-19 were published in those newspapers in a period of 61 days, from December 16, 2021, to February 12, 2021.

During the study, an analysis of news published in newspapers, surveys, and interviews with relevant agencies was conducted. Out of the published news, it seems that Gorkhapatra Daily has published 234 stories related to the virus. Similarly, Naya Patrika Daily published 68 news items, and Annapurna Post Daily published 67 news items. Out of the published news, 247 are incident-oriented, while 122 are investigative. Out of the total studied news, 83 were published on the first page, 81 on the second page, and 73 on the third page. Similarly, 132 news items have been published on other pages. The placement of news in terms of columns is as follows: 47 one-column, 39 two-column, and 40 three-column news stories were published in Gorkhapatra Daily. Similarly, 108 news articles were published on other pages. Naya Patrika Dainik published 16 one-column, 24 two-column, and 18 three-column news articles. Similarly, 10 news articles were published on other pages. Annapurna Post Daily published 20 one-column, 18 two-column, and 15 three-column news stories. Similarly, 14 news articles were published on other pages. While studying the news, it was found that the news were published in a way that would help and encourage the healthcare workers and volunteers who are at the forefront. It seems that the print media plays a role in preventing the infection from spreading further and reducing the unnatural discrimination that may occur in communities or areas that are more infected. The government issued guidelines related to Covid-19, including standards related to isolation centers for infected people. The criteria set by the Ministry of Health are not inappropriate because of the influence of the news in the print media. In some news stories, it was found that the news was published without mentioning the source. Even though the source was cited in the news, it was also seen that the news value was questioned when the actual source was not mentioned. News published by national media can reach a large number of readers, and the news content can spread rapidly through social media. The editorial team should always be aware of the fact that false and misleading information could confuse the readers. Likewise, a survey was also conducted during the study. A questionnaire was prepared focusing on 10 questions, with 30 people focusing on the effectiveness of the news related to Covid-19 published in print media. Questions were asked of civil society, doctors, and those who have recovered from Corona infections. They were questioned, focusing on the place given by newspapers to the news related to Corona, the impact of the news on society, the role played by the news in policy formulation, the source of the news, etc. Interviews were also conducted during the study. The role played by the media in the prevention of Corona, the value of the news published in the media, and its impact were discussed with nine people. Interviews were conducted with 10 people affected by Corona, officials of the Ministry of Health, the Minister of State for Health, journalists, and others. In the interviews, they said that the media has played a leading role in giving a voice to the Corona victims to constantly inform the government. It seems that during the corona period, the media mainly played an important role in conveying awareness to the general public about informational messages, prevention, and pre-preparation.