Self retrospection – important for everyone

During the virtual Meet the Press on May 5, 2022, Prime Minister (PM) Dr. Lotay Tshering was very clear when asked about issues concerning civil servants penalized for transgressing the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulations 2018. In what resembled a lecture on reporting and news writing, the PM asked if the media is doing its duty of collecting and establishing facts before something is published. He said he was “shocked,” in relation to a news. 
This does not mean that the Bhutanese media is still in its primitive stages. The PM did not say so. He emphasized on the importance of the media to get facts right, which is the jugular vein of the media. And in order to dig, distil and then distribute the nectar of truth, balanced reporting is very important. Yes! There are times when it becomes difficult, especially when a story is hot and there is competition to break the news. However, it does not matter what we break – house, safe and news; it should be broken well and in journalism it means getting details right and disseminating what is accurate. 
Apart from the case that the PM spoke about during the press session, another instance where the media appears to have failed to report or tell the right story is about the recent incident within the premises of the Supreme Court, which occurred on April 29, 2022. It was reported that a letter was sent from the Supreme Court to the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) asking for tighter security measures. Very reliable sources now say that the letter sent had nothing to do with the case. It was on an entirely different matter. 
Moreover, the security officer in-charge, new to the post had visited the Supreme Court premises a day earlier as part of his familiarization program. He had met security personnel there and talked with them. And he too, didn’t go because of the case or any letter. It was just a normal routine. But the story is out and the damage done.
We need not speak more about the importance of the media – we are important. Everyone acknowledges this. The media is powerful and as His Majesty always says, with power comes responsibility and in the case of the media, responsible reporting. 
As the PM said, with elections approaching, the media will need more information. We can be used and misused. We will be branded as supporters of one party or the other. But if we conduct ourselves responsibly, no one can dare say so. 
Just as we tell others, especially agencies and organizations that they need a mirror, and the media is the best, we need mirrors, too. At times, we have to do some soul-searching. It is part of intellectual maturity. If one does not engage in soul searching at all, he or she will never progress, for they will be living in a deluded world thinking that everything they do is right. 
It is also a proud moment for Bhutan and the media as we have jumped from the 65 position in 2021 to 33 this year in the global press freedom rankings.
The score is based on five indicators, which are political context, legal framework, economic context, socio-cultural context and safety. Bhutan’s ranking was dragged down by legislative and social indicators, which means that there are issues of members of media regulatory body directly appointed by the government, difficulty in getting access to state-held information and self-censorship by journalists in the country. But the fact remains that we have done well. And we can do better. However, we do need to look at the mirror occasionally.