But who is the ‘concerned person’?

Note: Instances of my experiences cannot be generalized.

It is commendable how our government has opened its door for the media. I cannot imagine if my other journalist friends around the world would access their Prime Minister at odd hours, or chat up with ministers on phone and facebook.

If information was confined only to them, life would have been a little easier.

Here is a peek into how I go about searching for information:

I go through my story ideas and sort out whom to meet and talk. I draw up a list of people I need to get for my story. I know I have to talk to the center dealing with research because they did a study on it. Then I talk to at least two people from the center who forwards me to another department. The department (two people, numerous calls) sends me another office (three people including a former technician). After much waiting, I realize it is the lab people I have to get the data from. They say the information I am looking for was a bit too old. They take some time to search (I wait) and then they say I need to speak to the authorized person who apparently is in a meeting. Of course that does not exclude three health officials, two got quoted and other apparently was not in the picture because he was not the ‘concerned person.’

Dozens of meetings are happening everywhere. ‘Concerned persons’ are dispersed everywhere. I do not blame them for attending meetings. I cannot!

I have been told that the appointing of so called concerned person, officially known as the media spokesperson, would help mainstream the dissemination of information to the media.

But this system has made collection of information more painful. Most of the time, the ‘concerned person’ who I find after much queries,  forwards me to the media spokesperson who in turn forwards me back to him or her because the spokesperson is not technically sound in the functioning of several departments, divisions and units.

Sometimes I would find my colleagues chasing after the so called ‘concerned person,’ like some wild goose chase (I mean literally). They also crib at times when the official concerned person that is the media spokesperson forgets to inform them on a very important meeting. I too, at times almost missed some important meeting. But the blame comes on me for being late.

In between, what I realize is that it wastes my time, the phone bills increase with every call and our energy (both yours and mine). Sometimes out of frustration I call this system, a way for the reporters to get entangled into the bureaucracy. It must not be so, but I assume this to be a way to hold back information.

Holding back information makes the reporter in me more curious. I probe into it. Some reliable sources would not always have the information. So I write an article based on whatever falls on my hand. And then that is where we are being criticized for not publishing accurately.

I would really like to not be accused. For me, if information is there, it is easier to write as I would understand an issue. If I have it, I will make sure to avoid all accusations of inaccurate reporting. But then when our civil service rules forbid civil servants to talk with the media, where are we supposed to get information from?

Being in this line of job you never know who would scold you for nothing, for someone else having made a mistake and in general for being from the media who is irresponsible. Sometimes it feels like people on the other end of line forget that we make a living out of this, too.

But I also have a question: If you refrain from giving information, how am I supposed to write unbiased and accurate stories?

About Kuenzang Choden

8 comments

  1. Kuenzang you write and bring very much related concerns and write ups. I m happy to take a journey through your write up..BUT..need to improve the photo of ur if its it u.

  2. Kuenzang,
    I totally agree with you on difficulty in getting information from government agencies.But on the other hand,you should also understand,those people in the government agencies are busy like you.Media people are just hunting for the news whether it is urgent or not and sometimes official in the government agencies have more pressing work than to attend you people.Sometimes you should put into their shoe and analyse rather than asking your right. 

  3. kuenzang,
    Yeah it is true that everyone can give thousand and thousands of excuses over their failure. But you also have to think and understand that people under government are busy with their own pressures from the person above plus havr set of rules to follow as they are also working under someone. Moreover there are some ethics to maintain in some services so they are not allow to provide any information over whatever you want whether it is true or not otherwise it goes against the ethic. And one thing, you just can’t publish whatever you have in your hand giving these type of excuses, if you are also not very sure over the issues you are dealing with and it is better to mention clearly the source of information you got or whether it is your opinion to avoid accusition.

  4. Lopen Gangkar,
    It would be nice if your arguments are more rational. You mention as if other sectors function without rules, order, lateral without superiors, and without ethics. Information effecting the sovereignty, security and respect for the king and the country may be protected but not who robbed government coffer of millions, who got involved into scams and who takes illogical policy decisions. 
    If government is reluctant to disseminate information by varied excuses concerning the functioning of the government through media to the people, then what is the government for? People not knowing the government affair, especially issues of immense interest to the citizen, would only impair the growth. It only characterises dictatorial government. 

    Madam Kuenzang:

    In the interest of country and its people, lets not be protective of how we manage our own bread, what we are governed by and how we function. 

    It only sends out wrong message that we are cocooned with guile.  

  5. Hi Tshering,
    In regard to corruption and robbing government money,there is already different body designated to oversee it.Firstly there is internal audit in the Ministry.Second, external audit(RAA) does thorough auditing of the financial expenditure.Third,there is ACC to do investigation on the corruption case.Therefore, if media needs information, they can asked the information from those body and i don’t see there is need for media to disturbed the govt official when they have other pressing work to do.And also to how many media should we provide the report.They are just coming to waste someone else time.

  6. is any minister been audutited so far in Bhutan?

  7. But i have observed one deficiency in Bhutanese journalist except Tenzin Lamzang (not that am fond of him), that is not trying to understand your target organization deeply be it government or private or NGOs. One must try to put in their shoe and understand how they operate and what are their respective roles and responsibilities. Other important aspect is we overlook the organizational structure and mandate of different divisions and sections under it. Also, it is vital to get hold of Government publications and go through it intensively. Plenty of stories will arise as there are whole lot of loopholes hidden in it. Further, its vital to study an issue from international context. Basically, am recommending you to carry out an in-depth, qualitative and holistic research and analysis. This could safe lot of time and resources.

    However, am pretty sure, you all are well aware of such issues. If so, just take this as a reminder note. Thanks!   

  8. antiSycophants

    I think theBhutanese news paper is doing good. I would like to thank all the reporters out there including editors and management team working hard to inform the citizen of the country without hesitations. You guys have proved that professionalism can thrive in Bhutan too. All the best.

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