At time when media was proliferating after 2008, a group of journalists came together for Journalists’ Association of Bhutan.
It started as a small group. Today, it is the only organisation that is focused on protecting the journalists and promoting professionalism in journalism in the country.
The association was registered as mutual benefit civil society organisation on November 10, 2014.
The association’s aims are to promote professionalism in the field of journalism, uphold freedom of expression and media, protect and promote the right to information, maintain high ethical standards in journalism and to protect journalists from hazards such as threats, harassments and litigation, among others.
Executive Director Needrup Zangpo said that the association promotes journalism in the socio-cultural and political context of the country. “We are trying to promote unique Bhutanese journalism grounded in the idea of Gross National happiness based on the socio-cultural and political set up, and focus on the ethical use of media.”
He added that the association does not encourage journalists to become too confrontational with authorities. “We encourage media to practice honest journalism that is socially responsible, and help build our democracy and the country,” he said. “Journalists are exposed to the risk of verbal and physical abuse in the line of duties. We need to support them in such situations.”
The association is involved in improving the ethical standards through professional training. It provides basic journalism training, mentorship programmes to new reporters and advanced and intermediate training to senior journalist. To enhance media coverage, the association provides annual rural reporting grant, and conduct annual journalism award to recognise the exceptional task of the journalist.
JAB has trained around 100 journalists and provided around 20 journalists from print, radio, and broadcast media with rural reporting grants.
A reporter of Druk Neytshuel, Jigme Wangchuk, said that such initiatives as a young journalists. “This improves the level and quality of news and provides a wholesome development in the newsroom.”
The association, though, is faced with the challenges of financial sustainability. JAB spent around Nu 100,000 to organise journalism awards with the support from relevant stakeholders. Currently, it is supported by Swiss Agency of Development Corporation and UN Democracy Fund.
Needrup Zangpo said that large numbers of senior journalist are leaving the profession. “We are not able to gain the impact of training them. We have to train a new batch every year.”
The association works in collaboration with Bhutan Media Foundation, Department of Information and Media, and other relevant organisations that share the mandate to foster media development.
A vibrant journalism community capable of playing an important role in the social, economic, and political progress of the nation.
The mission of Journalists’ Association of Bhutan is to build a professional and independent journalism community through training, education, and advocacy.