Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Media is the message

With all the discussions, disagreements, suggestions, allegations and assumptions making it to the pages of the local print media on the government’s advertising policy that is still being fine tuned, there seems to be agreement at least on one aspect – content is important.

Good writing, accuracy, objectivity, analysis, sensitivity, would be some of the basic rules, among others, that make good content. At this stage, meeting these basic requirements is a struggle for the local media; but most like to believe otherwise.
As has been seen the world over, those that provide the content eventually get a grip on the competition, and make a niche for themselves; no matter how early or late they enter the market. Some thrive on catering to the lowest common denominator; while others reach out for a more sophisticated readership.

Yet, in all the debate and discussion, the Kuensel newspaper has been unfairly projected, simply because it was Bhutan’s first paper; that came into existence in 1986. In fact, the pressure to do better is much more, because of the expectations; and it’s a challenge Kuensel thrives on.

As far as the newsroom goes, Kuensel is in the same boat as most other papers. With most of the older and trained journalists having moved on to other things, or left for greener pastures, it has as many young journalists that need training, exposure and guidance.

Yet government policies have denied Kuensel from competing in open journalism scholarships, which have now been segregated to either private or corporate employees. Coverage of international events, sponsored by NGOs, is also restricted for Kuensel, because of prevailing perceptions that do not have a basis. Even for government sponsored training programmes, Kuensel is usually left out; for reasons that are beyond comprehension.

Meanwhile, Kuensel has basically served as a stamping ground for a number of journalists, who are today at the helm of new papers and earn better salaries than before. It has in fact played a key role in fostering the growth of the private media that has come up for a number of reasons, besides promoting journalism.

There is also widespread perception that Kuensel still receives subsidies. That ended 15 years ago; and, while the private papers are eligible for a five-year tax holiday, Kuensel is not.

A diversity of media is needed, but the competition should be on professional grounds. Like improving content. That way, the overall quality of print journalism in Bhutan will move up. As a public service media, Kuensel will strive to produce good content that serves Bhutanese society.

Courtesy : Kuensel

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