By Sangay Choki
THIMPHU, Bhutan : The Journalists’ Association of Bhutan (JAB) recognized eighteen journalists for excellence in journalism at the sixth annual journalism award (AJA) that was held virtually for the first time in Thimphu on June 2. Five journalists bagged two awards each.
Of the 23 awards presented, 17 for print including a photo story, four in television, and two five in radio. The winners will receive a certificate and cash prizes.
A total of 61 entries were received from different media organisations this year. JAB had announced 27 awards and all members registered with JAB were invited to participate. However, there were no entries for the visual editor of the year, the cameraperson of the year and for the sound design of the year from the television category and for the environment story of the year (print) in the national language.
The press release for the JAB states that the most coveted Jigme Singye Wangchuck Prestigious Journalism Award JSWJA) was withheld this time as well. The JSWA is the highest journalism award in Bhutan and honours an individual or an organisation with outstanding contribution to journalism in the form of outstanding reportage, research, investigative writing, and journalism scholarship.
A five-member jury reviewed the Terms of Reference developed by JAB and agreed that it was difficult to identify or nominate a deserving candidate or an organisation at a time when JAB is in the process of developing quality journalism in Bhutan. “Therefore, the jury advised the JAB’s board directors and secretariat to withhold the award this year and recommended that JAB ask the editors to submit nominations for the award in the future,” the press release stated.
JSWA was instituted in 2015 as a tribute to His Majesty the fourth King, the father of Bhutan’s democracy.
The jury also dropped the social media award that JAB had proposed for the first time to recognise a social media user (an individual or an institution) making the biggest positive impact on society.
JAB’s president, Rinzin Wangchuk apologized for not able to organize AJA in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He said that the AJA, which is an annual feature that celebrates excellence in journalism by recognizing meaningful contributions made by individual journalists, normally organises on May 3 coinciding with the World Press Freedom Day.
Rinzin Wangchuk said that AJA is organized annually to reignite the passion for Journalism, encourage journalists to pursue stories, and most importantly, contribute towards uplifting of professional and ethical standards of journalism in Bhutan.
“Our journalists need to be honoured. They are shouldering a huge responsibility and it is only going to grow,” JAB’s president said. He also said that the Bhutanese mainstream media during the Covid-19 pandemic faced new low. The pandemic did affect the media not only financially but also in terms of reporting.
Rinzin Wangchuk, on behalf of the Bhutanese media fraternity, extended his warm welcome and congratulations for the two new chief executive officers of Kuensel Corporation Ltd and Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation (BBSC) who were appointed among the veteran journalists for the first time through a selection process. “ Despite the gloom brought about by the pandemic, the Bhutanese media industry has a cause for some celebrations,” he said. “There are new and renewed hopes for the industry to make fresh leaps in professionalism and survival of the country’s struggling media industry.”
The chairperson of National Council of Bhutan, Tashi Dorji and the UNDP Resident Representative and Resident Coordinator a.i, Ms Azusa Kubota, were the guest of honors during the sixth AJA event.
Anti-Corruption Commission, Bank of Bhutan, Department of Information and Media, Media Council of Bhutan, UN Bhutan, and United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) supported the event.
More than 100 journalists registered with JAB as members as of May 2021.