The signs of the times say a cold war is on between the government and the private media, with a barrage of articles aimed at the bureaucracy and the government.
With the articles, assuming sensationalist tone, I wonder at times, that the private media is playing the role of the opposition.
Now with the second general elections nearing, the tone of the articles is getting severe, papers are hurrying to publish information without taking the time to cross-check its veracity or getting the voice of the accused into the article. And when even laypeople complain that one article is one-sided, credibility that papers build over many well-researched articles crumbles.
For instance the latest story in, ‘The Bhutanese’ titled “MoE fires PDP principal and let the DPT one off the hook” published on 15th August 2012 was all one sided with quotes from the terminated principal Mr. Kinley Tenzin.
The Education Secretary’s response to the aforementioned story was published in ‘Bhutan Today’ issue dated 19th August 2012 with the title “Education Secretary questions papers motive” where the other side of the story was also presented very clearly. Only if both the sides of the story could have been published in one article it would have made sense to the general public. Otherwise we would keep wondering “how could such kind of things take place in a country that is just beginning to experience democracy.”
As far as I am concerned, I welcome investigative journalism in our private Medias because they play the role of a watch dog in democracy. However, I also feel that investigative journalism especially on public figures should always be backed by facts and figures so that the newspapers inform the public rightly and not misguide them. As long as the facts and figures are presented I believe no newspapers in any reporting should give their opinion. It should be left for the public to form their own opinion and judgment.
Bhutan is only a four-year-old baby democracy with a population of only about 700,000. We say we need vibrant democracy and for that we need vibrant Medias as well. But does vibrant media means having so many media houses that produce almost the same news across the newspapers? For me vibrant media would mean setting up few media organizations that report quality news. We need newspapers that inform the general public rightly. We need newspapers that bring out the facts rather than opinions of individuals or the opinions of reporters as in the case in the Kamji MSS story published in ‘The Journalist”
At this stage of our experience with democracy we need credible news papers and not tabloids. We need newspaper with creativity, objectivity and reach. It is not the number of newspapers that matters it is the quality of newspapers that makes the difference. Therefore, cheer up all the private newspapers. Gear up and steer yourselves into the market that you want to capture.