In­ter­ven­tion now would be to late or too lit­tle

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

The Jour­nal­ist As­so­ci­a­tion of Bhutan ( JAB) car­ried out the sit­u­a­tion as­sess­ment of jour­nal­ist in Bhutan to un­der­stand the state of jour­nal­ists in Bhutan and the en­vi­ron­ment they work in some few years back. The pri­mary ob­jec­tive of the study was to iden­tify con­straints and chal­lenges fac­ing jour­nal­ists in dis­charg­ing their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and as­sess pre­vail­ing me­dia poli­cies and free­dom to prac­tice jour­nal­ism.

The pro­lif­er­a­tion of the pri­vate me­dia oc­curred with the lib­er­al­iza­tion of me­dia in­dus­try on the on­set of the de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion process in 2006. More than 12 news­pa­per and 6 ra­dio sta­tions came into ex­is­tence dur­ing a short pe­riod of time. The me­dia in­dus­try was con­sid­ered a lu­cra­tive busi­ness then. The me­dia sec­tor em­ployed fairly good nos of peo­ple and did quite well fi­nan­cially and pro­fes­sion­ally.

The main prob­lems dur­ing this time were too much de­pen­dence on gov­ern­ment for sus­tain­abil­ity and lack of al­ter­na­tive source of rev­enue. Fur­ther there were al­ways stiff com­pe­ti­tion among the me­dia houses and lack of co­op­er­a­tion.

How­ever in 2010 things be­gan to get bad due to the aus­ter­ity mea­sures taken by the gov­ern­ment in ad­ver­tis­ing. The rev­enue of these com­pa­nies be­gan to plunge and the man­age­ment was forced to im­ple­ment the cost cut­ting mea­sures. Due to this the qual­ity of jour­nal­ism was com­pro­mised and there was a slow de­cline in the qual­ity of news. The se­nior jour­nal­ist had been laid off as the com­pa­nies do not have funds to pay for their salaries and al­lowances.

To­day, most me­dia houses are at the brink of bank­ruptcy and clo­sure. The sus­tain­abil­ity cri­sis faced by me­dia houses has had a di­rect ef­fect on the qual­ity of jour­nal­ism. Many se­nior re­porters and ed­i­tors have left the me­dia in­dus­try for greener pas­tures.

With this the news­room are filled with re­porters who are not ex­pe­ri­ence and lack jour­nal­is­tic skills. The ex­o­dus of ex­pe­ri­enced jour­nal­ists and im­pend­ing clo­sure of me­dia houses will neg­a­tively im­pact on the qual­ity and plu­ral­ism of me­dia. How­ever for those who are stay­ing back in the in­dus­try are go­ing through the most dif­fi­cult phase of their life. Hav­ing a fam­ily to sup­port and with the in­crease in the salary of the civil ser­vants and in­fla­tion hit­ting dou­ble digit fig­ures the sit­u­a­tion has gone from bad to worst.

With its fourth es­tate in its death bed and wait­ing for the turn to die and any in­ter­ven­tion now would be too late or too lit­tle. The im­por­tance of fourth es­tate in a demo­cratic setup is two folds as it in­forms the cit­i­zenry and also serves as a feed­back loop be­tween the gov­ern­ment and vot­ers.

As such the fail­ure of me­dia falls on each one of us as we have failed our­selves some­where as a re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zen.

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