Representation of intermediaries in print media in Nepal: a case study from Nov 2018 to Mar 2020

The sudden surge in outmigration from Nepal to countries other than India (primarily the Gulf States and Malaysia) started from the mid-1980s. The work available in these countries has now become a staple source of jobs for the Nepalese labour force. Intermediary agents are actors who fill a gap between the “supply and demand of labour, between receiving and sending countries” (Xiang, 2012). They include various organisations and institutions that help to establish an employment relationship between the hiring companies and employees (Wolfe & Hartley, 2005), and have played a central role in facilitating the outflows. The number of intermediary actors has increased over the years along with the increase in the number of migrants. Intermediary actors like recruitment agency, orientation centres, medical centres, financial institution and insurance are actively engaged in foreign employment of Nepal. At the moment there are 854 recruitment agencies, 148 orientation centres, 226 medical centres, 23 financial institutions, and 14 insurance companies (MOLESS, 2020).

Print media often shapes the perceptions of everyday people towards certain actors and so is an important factor in forming ‘discourses’ and shaping policies. However, there is a lack of analysis of how print media portrays intermediaries in Nepal. Hence in this paper we analyse the way print media has portrayed migration intermediaries. We particularly look at language, discourse and images as they are crucial factors in the production of meaning and (re)shaping the “shared meaning” of intermediaries for a larger discussion in society.

The paper is divided into three key parts. The first part gives a brief background on intermediaries including explaining who “intermediaries” are as per the operational definition used in this paper. It also gives their current status in Nepal. The second part describes the methodological approach applied to gather information on representation of those actors in the print media. The third section discusses findings on the portrayal of intermediaries. The final part is some insights into filling some gaps in ways media can facilitate factual discourse shaping of intermediaries calling for broader understanding of the actors involved in intermediaries.