A story’s quality determines if the story is worthy of an award not the entries, according to the executive director of Journalists’ Association of Bhutan Needrup Zangpo.

He said that the number of entries do not determine how a story is considered for an award. “Even if there is only one entry and if it is good enough, it could be selected for an award. On the other hand, none of the dozen entries could qualify for an award if they are not good enough.”

During the fourth annual journalism award, 23 awards were presented to the journalists.

Initially 31 awards were announced of which eight were cancelled. Seven of the eight cancelled categories were in Dzongkha category with six in print media and one in radio. 

Needrup Zangpo said that applicants from Kuensel thought that the Dzongkha jury was against Kuensel. “I assure you that the jury members were carefully selected based on their independence, professional competency, and personal integrity. Besides, the jury members have no way of knowing or identifying which story is whose.”

A press release from Journalist Association of Bhutan stated that the cancelled Dzongkha awards were for the crime and environment categories, which received an entry each, business and women and children categories that received two entries each, and culture and investigation categories that had three entries each. “The jury cancelled the awards citing lack of relevance to the subject of the categories and lack of reporting rigour the stories demonstrated,” the press release states. 

A different criterion is set for print and broadcast media. Within print categories, there are two different evaluation criteria – one for stories and another for editorials. 

According to Needrup Zangpo, all entries are formatted in a similar manner (margin, font, line spacing) and coded (each story is given a code number linked to the entry). Byline or any information that may lead to the identification of the newspaper or reporter is removed. 

Needrup Zangpo said that a three-member jury was appointed comprising of veteran Dzongkha editors and journalists. “We received more or less the same number of entries last year.”

Of the eight cancelled, one was in photojournalism. The category didn’t receive any entry. The award was open to all journalists and photojournalists, including freelancers. 

This year, the number of entries increased to 125, up from 58 last year. 

From the print media, Kuensel claimed four awards, Business Bhutan three, The Bhutanese two awards, and Druk Neytshuel one.

Phurpa Lhamo