Elec­tion cov­er­age in re­mote places al­most nil, says ECB

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Lhakpa Tsh­er­ing

R eturn­ing of­fi­cers (RO) re­ported that the me­dia cov­er­age of re­cent lo­cal gov­ern­ment (LG) elec­tions in re­mote places was al­most non-ex­is­tent or the sto­ries were in­ac­cu­rate. The me­dia were re­port­edly a hin­drance to the elec­tion of­fi­cials in the field.

That is what the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Bhutan’s (ECB) shared with the me­dia dur­ing a meet­ing on 9 Novem­ber in Thim­phu.

The sec­ond LG elec­tion was suc­cess­fully con­ducted in all the dzongkhags. How­ever, it was not with­out chal­lenges to the ROs and re­porters.

New is­sues and chal­lenges were iden­ti­fied af­ter ev­ery ma­jor elec­tion. The of­fi­cials of ECB said it the meet­ing was called to re­solve the is­sues and to en­sure that no same is­sues were en­coun­tered in the next elec­tion. “Some of the is­sues caused by the me­dia and those in­volved in the elec­tions,” said an of­fi­cial, ad­ding that it ul­ti­mately helps the ECB to con­duct bet­ter elec­tions.

The is­sues and chal­lenges were re­ported to the ECB in learn­ing from ex­pe­ri­ence pro­gram.

The jour­nal­ists who cov­ered the elec­tion said it was dif­fi­cult to get ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion since the ROs were not will­ing to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion.

Tashi Dema, a se­nior re­porter with Kuensel, said, “If the me­dia quoted them wrongly, they should have re­ported it to the ECB.” She added that it was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of me­dia to in­form the

na­tion cor­rectly. “If one has quoted them wrongly and elec­tion of­fi­cials don’t give in­for­ma­tion to all the me­dia per­son­nel, it is to­tally un­fair,” she said.

Tempa Wangdi, an­other re­porter from Kuensel, said while some ROs were will­ing to share any in­for­ma­tion there were oth­ers who did not want to deal with the me­dia at all.

He sug­gested that the ECB frame guide­lines for ROs for dis­sem­i­na­tion of in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia in the in­ter­est of democ­racy. He said it would be help­ful for re­porters if ECB could con­duct re­fresher’s cour­ses on elec­toral laws be­fore the elec­tion cov­er­age since many re­porters cov­er­ing an elec­tion would be new.

Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner Deki Pema said the ECB did not tell of­fi­cials not to share in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia. How­ever, she said of­fi­cials on an elec­tion duty might not give half­baked in­for­ma­tion un­til the re­sults were fi­nal­ized.

Tsh­er­ing, a re­porter from Bhutan To­day, said it would be help­ful for re­porters to reach re­mote places if the ECB pro­vided some funds for elec­tion cov­er­age. He said, “If ECB could al­lo­cate funds to the me­dia houses, we can reach re­mote ar­eas for elec­tion cov­er­age.”

Learn­ing from ex­pe­ri­ence pro­gram is con­ducted af­ter ev­ery ma­jor elec­tion to find out the is­sues and chal­lenges faced dur­ing the elec­tion pe­riod.

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