Our image may be in for a beating if the findings of the circulation audit is true.

An auditor has alleged that some of us have been inflating figures of our sales, creating fictitious receipts, and falsifying income, among others.

Which media houses may be doing this is not revealed and why they may be, also not.

It is important that these findings or allegations are proved firstly. Who verifies the results of this audit is a question that may require a third party, perhaps the Journalist Association of Bhutan to step into these waters.

But if true, such alleged malpractices are dangerous, especially for an already struggling media.

Our job and duty is to reveal and prevent such malpractice in our society, not engage in it.

If we’re ourselves involved in shady activities and cover ups, we risk losing what is most important to us: the public’s trust.

The golden age of media in Bhutan is perhaps over.

During that time, a monopoly was broken and media houses competed with each other. The media unearthed hidden issues, got the public discussing social issues, and even was able to influence policy.

But the dark ages are upon us today. Newspapers are struggling to stay afloat, news rooms are downsizing, experienced reporters and editors have left for greener pastures, news reports lack depth and analysis, press releases are printed word for word, articles are sometimes plagiarized from the internet or even each other, circulation figures continue their downward spiral, and more frequently we’re often the subject of ridicule for poor grammar and wrong spellings.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Many of us remain passionate despite the challenges. Not all are leaving. We absorb the laughs and criticism, sometimes scoldings and threats, and continue marching on, our belief in a free press and duty to the nation, unshaken. We know the media’s renaissance period will come.

But this audit finding is not helping.

Many today believe that social media is an equal alternative to traditional media. In certain areas, like breaking news it may be, but when it comes to the attempt to maintain objectivity, getting both sides of an argument, and getting to the truth, traditional media must be the platform that the public turns to with confidence.

But if our own are engaged in malpractice, then we only encourage the public to turn away and depend on social media, which could be dangerous for a small society.

Whether the findings or allegations hold any water, it would be for the future of journalism in Bhutan, that we clean up our own house.

It is a responsibility to our readers, the public, our friends, family, and ourselves.

If the government desires transparent accounts and records. Let’s give it to them. We mustn’t have anything to hide. We’re supposed to be the watch dogs. The ones doing the investigating, not the ones being investigated.