I was supposed to participate in a journalism conference in Geneva, Switzerland on April 22. But I didn't think it wise to go ahead as the news of thousands of stranded passengers from all over the world kept pouring in. I don't want to be the next victim of the crazy volcano!
The 6th Global Investigative Journalism Conference (April 22-25) was supposed to bring together nearly 600 journalists from around the world. But that number now must be dwindling. Three more Alfred Friendly Fellows were supposed to participate but it's not clear whether they will be able to do so.
The keynote speaker of the opening ceremony is veteran Italian investigative journalist Roberto Saviano. Other speakers include American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.
In the conference, I was supposed to talk about human trafficking along with three other journalists. I have a longstanding interest in investigative journalism (but I must say, I haven't done much in this regard in past year, except the Time Magazine story on the trafficking of Somali refugees to Nepal). But back in September 2004, I did a story on the trafficking of former Gurkhas and other blue collar workers into the US Army base in Iraq.
Similarly, I have done stories on kidney trade and got the opportunity to be featured in a documentary by Italian film makers. I broke the story of sex trade in Thamel in the August 2004 issue of Nepal magazine following which the police raided the massage parlours (I don’t approve such police actions). Lately, I’ve been focusing on migrant workers issue.
The investigative journalism is an area quite lacking in Nepal’s media sector. There are a few reasons behind it: the big media houses are reluctant to invest on investigative reporting, there are very few journos who are well-trained and interested in this area; Nepal’s politicization of everything and the interdependency among various sectors (for example you can’t probe a company that gives you the advertisements), among others.
Recently, as part of my preparation for the tour, I met a Belgian friend who has also lived in Netherlands in the 1980s for many years. When he knew about the conference, he remarked: “Investigative journalism is an area that’s very urgent in Nepal. You have to expose the wrongdoing, the corruption, the power abuse!” I totally agree with him.
After visiting US in 2008, I was looking forward to the Europe tour and this conference seemed like a perfect opportunity. But owing to the sudden outbreak of the volcano, I am forced to cancel my travel plans.