fredag 5 juni 2009

Republica: Why Nepal's new daily makes my heart beat faster

I have this reading ceremony every time I pick up a new edition of my favourite magazines like The Economist, Wired or Q Magazine.

First I flip and skim through the pages, trying to get a sense of all the stuff I want to read later on.

When I get to the final page, my heart beat is the indicator of how good the current issue is.

If my heart is pounding, I know I have a great reading experience waiting, if the beat is normal or just slightly faster it is a pretty good issue.

Since this week I've kept an eye on Nepal's new daily Republica (the English version of the Nagarik published in Nepali).

At home we already have The Kathmandu Post and The Himalayan Times. Both dailies are fairly OK but quite boring and both papers have room for major improvements when it comes to the editing and design processes.

Now, I have to confess I had a personal interest in Republica.

As a former journalist I'm of course always thrilled when a new newspaper is launched (especially in these the-newspaper-is-dead-times). But more importantly I had the honour of meeting Damakant Jayshi, one of Rpublica's editors, over a year ago for a cup of coffee when he still was at The Kathmandu Post.

Me and my wife had arrived in Nepal a few weeks earlier and before leaving Finland a friend suggested I look up Damakant to get a first crash course in Nepali politics (they in turn had met at Harvard as Nieman fellows).

After meeting Damakant I followed his editorial writings until they suddenly didn't appear any more in The Post. Soon I heard he was involved in a new project - Republica.

Getting an insight into Damakant's world view, his knowledge and his ambitions of course raised the bar of my expectations.

But I did not get disappointed.

The graphic form of Republica is very tastefully designed with enough room for every article. The editing is so nicely done that even a non-native English speaker like me has no trouble enjoying the material (the two other dailies seem to sport with getting as many weird slang terms into the headlines - strange but true).

But more importantly I feel there is a personal voice in Republica. It is hard to pinpoint why I feel that way, you have to check out that claim for yourself. And there is a serious ambition to provide the reader with relevant background information so that the news piece makes sense even if you are an outsider.

And there is a fresh feel to the way the Republica team challenges the newspaper concept.

For example, when I this Friday morning picked up Republica, on my way to New Orleans Café where I write this, I got a bit of a different newspaper in my hand compared to the previous issue I bought earlier in the week.

The whole Friday edition is called The Week and it seems to me that Fridays are special focus days for Republica. Very smart as the weekend is coming up and Saturday in Nepal is the major day off, not Sunday.

Today the special focus is on environmental issues as it is World Environment Day. The Republica provided me with an extensive reading package about both Nepali and global environmental issues.

Very impressive - especially when the two other dailies didn't even bother to inform me that World Environment Day is today.

As there seems to be so much interesting stuff to read in Republica that the paper makes it to my list of Morning Must Haves with flying colours. So that I can give my little heart a kick start straight away in the morning.

That is of course why I today started my Republica subscription.

PS. Also check out the Republica website at

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