Stop press!

Good job

Press release

On 30th July, the media received a much-needed shot in the arm when, at the concluding ceremony of the third session of the Parliament, His Majesty the King underscored the importance of the media and commanded: “I appreciate that while some of the media agencies are young and lack adequate resources they have strived to perform their duties with complete commitment. Hereafter, media will be vital in keeping people well informed and in encouraging debate and participation – key to a vibrant democracy. Therefore, I have decided that through the exercise of my Royal Prerogative of Kidu, to strengthen media agencies so that they may carry out their duties, without fear or favour, in the interest of democracy.”

Yesterday, the media got another shot-in-the-arm. This time, it was self-help – the support came from the journalists themselves. And, what they did was launch the Thimphu Press Club.

I visited the club yesterday. It was late – almost nine o’clock – when I got there. And the official ceremonies to inaugurate the club, if there had been any, had, by then, evolved to a party. Journalists from the print media, TV and radio mingled freely with their well wishers – writers, artists, actors, musicians, and, naturally, politicians.

With overstuffed sofas in three separate lounges – each equipped with internet, TV and replicas of world famous paintings – it’s easy to see how the club will encourage our journalists to meet, discuss, debate, argue and fight over issues that they consider important. And to make sure that their members stay frequent, the club serves up a hearty, delicious fusion of Bhutanese and Indian food.

But, lest we forget the main purpose of the press club, i.e., to unwind after a hard day’s work, the centerpiece of the club is its bar. This is what will greet you as soon as you enter the ornate main door.

The press club is a first in terms of providing journalists the venue and the reason to meet regularly. This is good for our media. This also augurs well for the proposed association of journalists, work on which has already started.

The two unrelated events – His Majesty’s command and the opening of the press club – bode well for our media, the fourth estate. I’m happy. And to celebrate, I’m featuring journalists in our banner this week.

“…there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.” Thomas Carlyle in his book On Heroes and Hero Worship (1891)