… more journalists leave the profession after the pandemic 

Chhimi Dema 

Newsrooms in the country are stretched to their limits with only a few seniors or experienced journalists, and recruits leaving the profession.

Although no study has been conducted so far to see the numbers of how many journalists left the profession, many journalists like employees in the civil service and corporate sectors are leaving the profession for opportunities in Australia, Canada, and the USA.

Low salary, poor working environment and heavy workload are seen as factors influencing journalists to find other career alternatives.

From Business Bhutan, two reporters left the newspaper this year.

Business Bhutan’s editor, Ugyen Tenzin, said that the attrition rate of journalists is influenced by the “Australian Rush” currently. “The number of journalists leaving Bhutan is higher than ever experienced before.”

A lot of senior journalists left journalism to work or study in Australia, he said. “Factors such as inflation and high living standard is influencing journalists to find other options. Salary and incentives reporters in the private newspapers get are not at par with their job responsibilities.”

The biggest loss when a senior reporter leaves is news sources for information, Ugyen Tenzin said. “Public relations cannot be bought.”

Ugyen Tenzin said that the editorial team has submitted a proposal to the management to increase the pay and incentives of the reporters as a measure to retain them. “We are hopeful that the management would consider the proposal.”

Editor-in-chief of The Bhutanese, Tenzing Lamsang, said that the newspaper hasn’t seen many leaving the paper. One reporter left the newspaper this year.

The general observation of attrition rate in the mainstream media has been high because it is a challenging profession, Tenzing Lamsang said. “In this profession, there are more risks than rewards.”

He said that there is no career path in the profession. “For how long can one remain to do the same work?”

He added that the market is too small that it can support only a few media houses to sustain themselves through advertisements.

About 60 employees consisting of news reporters, producers, camerapersons, and editors left in one year and nine months from BBS. Some left for Australia to study and work and others are planning to go there.

BBS recruited six reporters this year and would recruit graphic designers, IT personnel, reporters, and television and radio producers next year.

BBS’ chief executive officer, Kaka Tshering, said that the management is recruiting and conducting in-house training to fill the human resource gap.

He said that the management would not attend to resignation next year. “In the middle of the parliamentary elections, we cannot have people leaving BBS.”

According to the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority, there are seven newspapers  – Bhutan Times, Bhutan Today, Business Bhutan, Gyalchi Sarshog, Kuensel, The Bhutanese, and The Journalist –  in the country today.

The only television broadcasting station is Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS).

There are five FM radio stations (BBS Radio, Centennial Radio, Kuzoo FM, Radio Valley, and Yiga Radio).

Three reporters left Bhutan Times this year. The newspaper’s senior reporter, Sonam Penjor, said that it is difficult to work in the newsroom with only a few reporters. “We cannot bring diversity to our news stories,” he said.

He said that many are choosing to leave for better opportunities. “Reporters look for better pay and a good working environment to work in the profession for long.”

A news reporter who left the profession recently said that the workload was too much.

“I had to work as a reporter and a marketing officer and the salary was very less compared to the work I had to do,” the reporter said.

Reporters are not sent for training and there is poor management of financial accounts, the reporter added.

A total of 12 newsroom employees, a mix of newly recruited experienced journalists, resigned from Kuensel in the past 12 months.