Exciting news

There’s excitement in the air. The media fraternity has finally launched the Journalists Association of Bhutan. The journey has been long: it began way back in 2006, and has included a UNDP funded project and the establishment of the Bhutan media foundation.

So, naturally, our journalists are excited. I’m excited too. I congratulate our journalists. And I wish them success in their mission to improve the quality of journalism in Bhutan. Congratulations also to JAB’s office bearers, especially to their first president, Passang Dorji.

But there’s another reason for that excitement. The media fraternity has been preoccupied by a state of commotion, confusion and suspicion.

Kuensel informs us that most of them had no idea what was happening and “most came to know about the election only on the evening before.” Kuensel also informs us that two elected members of JAB’s powerful steering committee have already resigned, and that several media houses have questioned the election process, that they have called for a re-election, and that they have been thinking about boycotting the association.

In his letter to the JAB general secretary, Tenzing Lamsang, one of the two steering committee members who resigned, has complained that “… since last evening powerful forces both inside and outside the media have been hard at work to undermine the elections and along with that JAB as an organization.”

Bhutan Today laments that “Everyone wants to hold the reins. But there is a proper way to get there. “By hook or crook” should not be in the dictionary of the Fourth Estate …” And they ask “Where are we failing? Is it the tyranny of the minority but powerful players?”

There’s no doubt that the JAB elections were controversial. But then, on the other hand, every one seems to endorse the new president. If so, where is the controversy? And why did Tenzin Rigden and Tenzin Lamsang resign from the steering committee? Who are the “powerful forces both inside and outside the media” seeking to undermine JAB? Who are those that crave power even “by hook or crook”? Who are the “minority but powerful players” in the media?

There’s excitement in the air. But it could be just a storm in a teacup. Or it could be a dangerous storm, one that is actually about power politics. Either way, we, the people, would be obliged if the media could tell us what all the fuss is about; if they could shed some light on what’s really taking place; if they could give us the really exciting news.