With only about 10 among 54 media students of Sherubtse College, Tashigang, wanting to become journalists, the students are not motivated to pursue journalism as a career.
A final year student of Dzongkha and Media Studies, Tashi Dorji, is not sure whether he would like to pursue career in journalism after he graduates this June. “I would rather become a freelance journalist than work for a company as a reporter,” said the 23-year-old.
Tashi Dorji said that he is discouraged from being a full-fledged journalist not because he would be working under pressure and deadlines, but because of the current media scenario in the country.
“There are many restrictions that we as a Buddhist are bound with. We cannot inquire on several issues in the country because of our beliefs and preconceived notions,” he said. “These restrictions will come in conflict with our line of duty as a journalist.”
He said this, in turn, will hamper the growth of journalism.
He also said there are other challenges like difficulty in access to information and the existence of red tape in the society.
Another third year student, Kinley Wangmo, said that it was not her decision to pursue media studies in the college in the first place. “It was by default that I got into the course. Given an opportunity, I would like to become a teacher,” she said.
After the completion of their higher secondary school, students receive phone call from the Royal University of Bhutan once the results are out. Students can choose from among the options available. The decision has to be made immediately.
This system, according to Sangay Tshechu, Head of Department, Department of Arts and Humanities, is one of the reasons why students do not show interest in the subject that they study in colleges.
“It becomes difficult for us as tutors to persuade the students to develop a passion for a particular subject when they are not mentally prepared for it,” she said.
Another reason why media students are not interested in taking up journalism is because of the pressure from parents who urge them to become civil servants, said Sangay Tshechu. “Most of the parents today want their children to appear RCSE right after graduation. Only then they are allowed to pursue other jobs and their passion.”
A second year English and Media Studies student, Sangay Dema, said that she wanted to become a journalist, which is why she joined the course. Now, however, today she doesn’t want to become a journalist. “I want to work as a freelance photo journalist because I don’t think there are many photo journalists in the country today.”
Another student, who didn’t want to be named, said that after hearing the deteriorating media scenario in the country, he has lost the trust in the industry. “I have heard and also seen many experienced journalists leave journalism, not because they found a better career option but because they were not allowed to practise journalism,” he said. “When a person is not allowed to do what he is meant to do, where is the freedom there?”
To observe the International Press Freedom Day, extempore speech competition was held at the college where issues pertaining to media and journalism were given as topics.
Sherubtse College is also planning to come up with a separate media studies programme by 2019. Currently, the college offers media courses in combination with Dzongkha and English combinations.
Sangay Tshechu said that given the limited market for media students in the country, in order to prepare the students for any kind of job and not just in journalism, the new media programme will cover various aspects from politics and economics to developmental and environmental subjects.
The media programme in the college was started in 2012.
Younten Tshedup | Trashigang