Thursday, December 24, 2009

The more, the merrier?

The journalism fraternity has increased. Now we can boast of one newspaper for every 100,000 population with The Journalist in the scene.

That of course doesn’t take into account the launching of magazines like Druk Trowa, Yeewong and of course the much-talked about Drukpa. We have some nine publications going around the country now.

Yeewong, the first women’s magazine launched on 30 September, is about embracing every aspect of Bhutanese womanhood that makes Bhutanese women special and different. It would also be focusing on youth and child issues, according to its editorial stance.

Then on 9 November, Bhutan’s first film and entertainment magazine Druk Trowa came into the scene. For the first time, our film stars received publicity to their heart’s content, besides the weekly snippets that the newspapers wrote about them to cover their entertainment pages.

Then came the much talked-about Drukpa on 17 December: it plans to address the gap in the Bhutanese media and give readers something different in the process. Every issue of Drukpa will be based on a specific and special theme, which will be covered in an in-depth and comprehensive manner.

Now following on their heels, comes another weekly. It is run under the supervision of a man who is a writer in his own rights, and he has a bunch of reporters/writers who cut their teeth when Bhutan Times came into operation. Gopi knows what he is doing. So do his staff members.

The birth of this paper can be traced back to Tenzin Rigden, who may not have direct connections with this paper, but has much to do with why it came about in the first place. The end of his term, which resulted in a new management, caused the reporters to resign, and begin a paper of their own.

Tenzin Rigden started off with Bhutan Media Services, before plunging into newspaper when government decided to liberalise it, is a good writer and an organizer too. He has a knack of the business of media. But then like all journalists and writers, he is also susceptible to chew what he cannot swallow.

But then, that sounds like making remarks in retrospection. We all know the CICCC bid to make a name and fame clipped his wings.

Other members of the press fraternity looked on him with awe. Sadly, at the end of it, his board of directors and shareholders were not impressed.

Though the Bhutanese media scene is booming, one criticism has been the lack of depth on issues covered in newspapers. That is correct. But how do we go about correcting this problem? This will happen only when, if not all but most of the literate members don’t wrinkle up their nose, read the Bhutanese product and give fair comments to encourage its development and growth.

Despite the courage it has taken to plunge into it, Bhutanese media still needs time to build itself into an institution that the country will look up to.

But then, the new media organizations joining the fraternity means that the government is open about it. After all, media and democracy go hand in hand. That obviously is the reason why free media was allowed in Bhutan even before the first democratic elections were held.

In some countries, the newspaper and magazine business is almost like cottage industry.

We in Bhutan haven’t come to that sad stage. The possibility is very near. Yet despite all that possibility, let’s look up to the brighter side of new news organizations coming into operation. Whatever is happening is for the good, like one journalist said.

The more the merrier.

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