The way forward for media award
6 May, 2009 – The start of an annual media award by the ministry of information and communications (MoIC) to honour excellence in Bhutanese journalism is a welcome initiative. The idea is to recognise hardworking Bhutanese journalists – especially those who have exposed or brought up for debate significant public issues or problems. But maybe because it was a first this year, there were several areas of concern in the newspaper submissions that we think MoIC can address in the next media award.
Select independent judges of editors and writers. They should not in any way be affiliated or associated with the newspapers, which would cause conflict of interest. Government officials, politicians and businessmen should not be judges. MoIC, as the organiser of the award, must make that decision and not leave it up to the papers.
Draw rules for submitting papers. MoIC must make it clear whether a newspaper can submit a story for the award written by their contributors. Or if it should come under the entry for freelance writers.
Check story background. MoIC must see that the stories submitted are factually correct and that they are not written by outsiders and passed off as their own reporter’s story, or writing. An editor, who knowingly does that, is not only unethical but is also sending a wrong message to his young reporters.
To avoid confusion, we also suggest that MoIC put a complete guidelines and rules for submitting entries for the award online. It must ask submissions to be no more than three entries in any one category from a newspaper. The competition should also be limited to work published during the calendar year, ending December 31.
Because these elements were missing or overlooked, we believe, created the controversy surrounding the first media awards. The important thing is to provide a fair platform for the competition and that only the deserving reporter or newspaper is honoured.
Meanwhile, MoIC could also think of giving away a public service prize to a single newspaper for its exceptional coverage on public issue matters. The submission could include editorials, photographs, cartoons, graphics and Web items, such as interactive graphics and polls.
News is history shot on the wing