There is information deficit in the country today and likely this trend is going to grow.
When information is in short supply, journalists do not lose their job but the people do not get the services that they require.
The media—print, visual, and audio—are still trying to figure out how and from where the trend of what the Reporters Without Borders, an international non-profit and non-governmental organisation with the stated aim of safeguarding the right to freedom of information, calls “freedom predators” have come to reign in the country’s media landscape.
When the public and civil servants refuse to talk to the media, there is a problem. There is something to hide. And the media will keep on digging into what is behind all the dramatic quietness.
Reports appear on the print suddenly and the so-called officialdom is left unsettled. The questioning begins and officials and employees are held to account.
This is not a true, even a near picture, of a young democracy that is wont to claiming it has gone far ahead in a short time and surpassed and even outdone the traditions upheld by the oldest democracies on earth.
When the offices such as the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Office of the Attorney General and the judiciary stop to open up to the media, concerns must take root in the hearts of the people.
Studying the trend, we can pin the source on the board. For example, why can’t the civil servants, the main implementers of the nation’s development plans and programmes share information as to what development activities and programmes are coming to the villages and how they are being prioritised financially?
When the Constitution itself guarantees the freedom of expression, there is no requirement of other laws, rules and regulations to put gag orders on the people and the information that they have the right to.
The tussle between all the high and big offices and the media today will go on. It could even get worse, going by the trend that is being forced upon the country and the people. But there is gain and loss to talk about and consider in the long term.
There is nothing to gain from information gag but so much to lose. The media will take the battering. In the age of social media, the news will somehow come to the people. In such a situation, the result often is a dangerous concoction of truth and lies. That’s when society as a whole, the nation, loses big time.
At a time when we are restructuring the whole service system in the country, opening up and giving priority to transparency and accountability is the only way to avoid the rot eating deep into the heart of the Bhutanese system.
Let the media exercise its power to enlighten and empower the citizens. All the rest will fall in place.