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Twenty journalists received recognition for excellence in journalism at the fourth annual journalism award that was held yesterday in Thimphu coinciding with the world press freedom day. Three journalists bagged two awards each.

Of the 23 awards presented, eight were for English print, two for Dzongkha print, six in television, five in radio and two special awards.

The winners received a certificate and cash prizes. Although, 31 awards were announced in the beginning— 17 for print, one for photojournalism, six for radio and six for television, eight awards were cancelled. Seven of the rejected awards were in the Dzongkha category.

Journalists’ Association of Bhutan’s (JAB) executive director, Needrup Zangpo, said that this was due to lack of entries and lack of quality.

He added that one award for photojournalism did not receive any entries. “Six entries from the Dzongkha print media and one from Dzongkha radio were rejected by the respective juries citing lack of quality to deserve national awards.”

“This year, we have identified separate awards for Dzongkha programmes in broadcast categories—three for TV and three for the radio,” Needrup Zangpo said.

Last year a total of 21 awards were awarded. The entries for the awards spiked to 125 this year from 58 last year. Unlike last year, the increase this year could probably be because each journalist was allowed to submit two entries.

Karma Dorji, who has 29 years of experience at the Bhutan Broadcasting Service Ltd., received the Jigme Singye Wangchuck Prestigious award. The Bhutanese newspaper’s reporter Sonam Yangdon bagged the Most Promising Young Journalist of the Year award.

JAB’s President, Rinzin Wangchuk highlighted the importance of capacity building for journalists. He added that the government could support the media industry by investing in more specialised trainings and by providing opportunities to journalists to hone their skills. “Given that most senior journalists have left the profession, although some still contribute as freelancers, it has become critical to continuously build the capacity of our journalists.”

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay in his address asked the media to submit a written letter requesting and specifying the kind of trainings required by the media firm to the information and communications ministry.

“With this we will see the prospects of including this in the 12th Plan. We cannot agree directly to this because we will have to discuss further with other agencies. I personally think it is important because there are many young journalists.”

JAB also launched the second edition of its journal, Bhutan Press Mirror: A JAB Occasional Journal, which highlights the situation of journalism in Bhutan through opinion pieces and JAB’s activities.

Journalists, government officials, representatives from international organisations and the corporate sector attended the award function.

Bank of Bhutan, Bhutan Media Foundation, Bhutan National Bank, Druk Green Power Corporation Limited, Department of Information and Media, Druk Holding and Investments Limited, National Commission for Women and Children, Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority, Bhutan Power Corporation, Royal Monetary Authority and UN Democracy Fund supported the event.

Phurpa Lhamo

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