The Media Drop reports:

Last night, I had an opportunity to correspond via email with the author of the Radio Free Nepal blog. What I received was some more information about the situation going on in the country, especially regarding the media. Questions and answers below. [Note: any adjustments made in editing the responses are in “[]” brackets]

Additionally, I asked whether there was anything else this blogger wanted to get out there or that we, the community, could do to help. I received one sentence in reply: “What you can do for Nepal is spread words about need [for] democracy in Nepal because USA’s view will make a lot of differences.”

TMD: To start, can you explain a little bit about how you’ve been corresponding over the Internet for the last weeks? I know there are times when outbound communications are shut down, and I would expect that dial up Internet access creates for frustrating situations when trying to get information out there. Are you being monitored while on the Internet at all, or are there certain times when you are able to be online, uncensored?

RFN: At exactly 10:00am on Feb 1, the King’s address to the nation was broadcasted by the state-run radio and television. And, by the time, the half-an-hour speech ended, all the inbound and outbound calls were closed. Later I heard that army personnel went to each ISPs and shut down the servers and told them not to run it until further orders.

The telephone was open for a few minutes everyday at random time but with out international calls but no internet. The internet and phone started running as usual after a week and since then working fine without any problem. I don’t know if its being monitored or not but my query to the ISP was answered in negative.

During the time, the only way to communicate to outer world was the satellite phones which very less people own. And embassies and UN offices let journalists (I don’t know about others) to use internet using their V-SAT.

TMD: Also regarding the Internet, are you able to read most websites, but not have access to self-publishing tools such as blogs and whatnot?

RFN: Internet is working fine. I can do anything on the internet, there [are] no restrictions besides in some websites which were banned before the coup like which is of the Maoists.

TMD: How about telecommunications - are outbound and inbound telephonecalls up and running at all times in Nepal at this time? Are there restrictions placed on these, as well?

RFN: Telecommunications are running well. There are no restrictions [on] inbound and outbound calls.

However, cellular mobile services have been closed downed and landline telephone service of private telephone company, United Telecom, has been down.

TMD: Is there any information about yourself (yourselves?) that you might be able to share? Based on the writings on the Radio Free Nepal blog, I thought perhaps you were involved in journalism or some form of writing. Without obviously giving away too much information, can you confirm this? Are you currently working at the job that you had before all of this happened with the sacking of the PM and last cabinet? If so, what has changed? If not, what are you planning to do, or are you doing?

RFN: About me, I am a professional journalist associated with a reputed media in the country. I currently hold my job but many of my friends have already lost their jobs and are in situation to lose it. There have been talks about lay-offs but we don’t know as yet how many will lose the job. Most of the publishers are in ‘wait-and-see’ strategy for two-or-three months before finally making the decision but they have already made it clear that there will be lay-off if situation doesn’t improve.

TMD: Can you share any more about the public-at-large? Are they all fully aware of what has happened and what the rest of the world knows, which seems to be different from what was originally reported in the news in the days after the “bloodless coup,” as some are calling it? How is general morale in the country?

RFN: People in Nepal are largely unknown of the consequences of the takeover. As most of us are uneducated and poor, we have less to do with the politics. And, besides, the ongoing Maoists war and the political instability during democracy have frustrated many. Just after the takeover, many believed that there were no alternatives for Nepal. Now with the information isolation and all they are starting doubting the King’s intention.

And, to add here, King Gyanendra is not a popular king. Many Nepalese believe he had hands in the Royal Massacre that saw all but Gyanendra’s family killed. King Birendra who was killed in the incident was very popular king. And the current crown prince Paras is more known for his antics – fighting in casinos and reckless driving.

The people are still confused about the whole thing. They know democracy is gone. And, they believe they have no choice either – they believe democracy is good but that failed to their test in last 14 years. They know the King is not doing well, but don’t have any other principle to hold on to protest the move. Besides, the King is trying to be popular with price slash in LP Gas and kerosene.

TMD: I’ve been posting this week about stories saying that over 1,000 journalists are probably going to lose their jobs, if they haven’t already. Is that looked at as permanent? Do these news organizations plan to tow the party line or are they planning to just dissolve?

RFN: Since all FM Radio stations who used to give news a top priority have been ordered only to broadcast music, the job of the journalists working there are in danger. I haven’t heard anyone being fired but everybody is concerned and are taking their job as gone one despite their employers are using same ‘wait and see’ strategy. It looks like the King is not in the mood to let them broadcast news anytime in future as the state-owned daily carried a news title, ‘No fm station in the world broadcast news’ a few days ago. If that happen their jobs will go for forever.

FM Stations, I have heard a dozen or so among 56 operating have been not broadcasting.

TMD:Do you have any idea how many journalists have been arrested for speaking out at this time? Reports are spotty in this country as to what has actually happened. Do you know anyone who has been arrested or censored by the government, or stopped by soldiers for whatever they were doing?

RFN: I have no idea how many journalists have been arrested because news are very hard to come by. The general secretary of Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) Bishnu Nisthuri have been arrested and the FNJ are planning a peaceful rally against media censorship and the arrest. The president of FNJ Taranath Dahal is said to have been inside UN (which may be true because his interview appeared in the newsmagazine yesterday). What I can confirm now is no one from mainstream dailies has been arrested so far.

I know a lot of people who actually faced the censorship. They told me that the army were not harsh instead were polite but nevertheless did their work sincerely.