Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Squabble in the media industry

So, the media personnel made it to the news column yesterday. We are supposed to write about others and not about ourselves.

But then it is a classic case of a fight between the management and the workers. At one time it used to be between the landlords and the peasants, in historical context.

Every one in the media circle knew that the trouble was brewing in Bhutan Times. It happens. While the management is more concerned about the money that comes in, the editorial people are more concerned about the stories to meet the deadline.

There has always been a tussle between the management and the editorial on how much should be spent on a particular story. The management goes by the greatest number of stories for the money spent, while the editorial people go by the value of a story.

We are told that the editorial felt the interference of the management. There are three versions to every story, that of the two parties, and then the truth. We are no one to judge who is right, but this is an issue that needs scrutiny.

In Bhutan, the laws are clear on the news being untainted by the polities of those who own the newspaper. While it is acceptable in some countries to push the political ideas and parties that they favour through their newspaper, this is illegal in Bhutan.

It is not clear if such issues plague the private papers in Bhutan, certainly this issue has never been brought up.

But nonetheless, it is an issue we need to make clear provisions for. While some think it is perfectly acceptable to use a newspaper that they own to push their own agenda, others deem it unethical. Those who do not see a problem say that after all, if the readers do not like the paper’s views, they will not read the paper, so it is the paper that loses out. Others who take the opposite view feel that the papers owe it to the readers to provide a ‘middle’ news. Facts, and no less than facts.

Of course, the existence of an editorial means that papers do take some stand on all issues. Bhutan sees occasional ‘fiery’ editorials that condemn this and praise that.

In the case of Bhutan Times, the management publicly said that it was they who suggested that the editorial not to use the paper to their own ends.

That sort of clash was always there in one form or the other. But the editor and reporters of Bhutan Times walking out just two days before the publication of their Sunday issue created a commotion among the readers and the management alike.

According to reports, the department of information and media and BICMA were also worried. After all it was an unprecedented move, something that never happened before.

The Bhutan Times people resigned to protect independent journalism in the country from interference from the management. The new managing director had a different thing to say. These allegations and counter allegations are expected.

One would not say that the employees have to play up to the management. Yet one has to have a sense of responsibility towards other co-workers from other sections. And most of all, one has to have respect for one’s clients. In this case, it means the readers.

The companies may go bust. Along with it our own reputation may also go down. Our clients may not trust us the next time round.

The squabbles are not uncommon. But these petty things must be settled internally.

1 comment:

  1. Sir,

    Your are right...what goes on within the walls must not leak at all. I heard sb say "What has this world come to; journalist making news instead of writing news?"

    You should read wearenowriters.blogspot.com. It talks about issues from a whole different perspective and then www.bhutantimes.com

    I also found that people are getting bolder by the day. While the CEO put the nation to shame by revealing all the letters in the print including that of BICMAs, he also printed his own reply to that. Wow! Haven't we come to the new age afterall, to witness such a thing? And why did the 7 of them good writers walk out? Wasn't there a better way to resolve things? I mean, who burns down the house he grew up in?

    In the end, I hope BT will not die a premature death.