… a permanent information and media officer is crucial for a better relationship

IMO: For a better working relationship between the government and the media, information and communication ministry has called for permanent information and media officers (IMO) in the ministries and their agencies.

Media has for long complained that it was difficult to get information from civil servants and the government offices. MoIC secretary Dasho Kinley Dorji said, “The ministry would take up with the government to make it a permanent post.”

“Instead of putting 10 engineers on the job to talk to media, one good media information officer could explain things much better,” Dasho Kinley Dorji said.

“Being the link between officialdom or government and news media, if that is being done effectively a lot of our problems or complaints would be solved.”

Information and communications minister DN Dhungyel at a certificate awarding ceremony to IMO yesterday said if the job of an IMO is made permanent trainings could also be given to those officials alone.

Should the responsibility of information and media officer remains an additional responsibility to what a civil servant already has then the purpose is defeated, he said.

While the position classification system of civil service allows a ministry or its agency to have an information and media officer (IMO), most of the officials are just taking up the job as an additional responsibility.

The ministry has trained 36 officials who act as IMOs in ministries and other agencies last year. Most of the trainees who received certificates yesterday were not permanent IMOs but legal officers, program officers, drungtsho, statistician, and ICT officers, among others.

“We may have information, but we need the authority from superiors to give them which could take time,” an IMO said.

In a similar training in 2013, only 15 IMOs from government and constitutional bodies turned up for the ministry’s two-day workshop on dealing with the media.  Even then those officials, who attended, were not even information media officials.

The minister said, “To start with, the government is going with whatever set up we have in the ministry or the agencies, train them and see how it goes,” Lyonpo DN Dhungyel said.

“As the job gets bigger and tougher, we’d like to ensure that (trained) IMOs remain as IMOs and not as a part time job,” he said, adding that this might take a little more time and could have some teething problems at the beginning.

MoIC officials said that it was also what the trainees desired.

“They said it would be better if the IMOs’ post could be instated as a full time professional one and not just as an additional responsibility,” an official said.

Bhutan Media and Communications Institute conducted the trainings.

By Tshering Palden