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Inaccessible access to information

There has been so much reiteration on the importance of communication, transparency and openness for that matter, but these are just rhetoric or some malarkey if the present trends are any indication. And what is indubitably sad is the fact that there are the heads of government institutions and agencies who feel that they are doing a humungous service to the media by answering their queries and rendering information to them.

Has media’s access to information become so grueling? It appears so going by what reporters looking for stories or information in the field say.

Even for a few details on certain stories, the reporters today literally have to beg or cajole for information. It’s all a matter of sheer luck or the mood of the source/interviewee sharing the information with that reporter. If he/she is lucky, she gets the story. Otherwise be prepared to hear the phone getting slammed against you. And there are some ministers whom you can never contact over the phone, no matter how much one tries.Tastatur Info

There has been so much reiteration on the importance of communication, transparency and openness for that matter, but these are just rhetoric or some malarkey if the present trends are any indication. And what is indubitably sad is the fact that there are the heads of government institutions and agencies who feel that they are doing a humungous service to the media by answering their queries and rendering information to them.

It’s only dismal if such are the understanding and comprehension of the media. The access to information today, which many media practitioners claim have become even more arduous compared to the past years, could perhaps also explain Bhutan’s continuous drop in global press freedom ranking.

And while we may make headway toward transparency and accountability with the enactment of the Right to Information Act, how many of us even believe, both in spirit and mind, that information is a public property? And that people have the right to this information, and people should know about public policies affecting them and their lives. It’s more about rights than a favor.

However, on the contrary, labeling media people as ‘Phung zoh mee’ (Controversy brewer) and lines like ‘Choe Media Tsu Nyam Tse Yeh (You, media people are a disturbance!) have only become common today. If media has failed today, if it’s in a piteous state, it’s not only the media to be blamed. If people’s trust in the media and media’s credibility is being questioned today, the lack of access to information and more-than-constricted access to information are partly to be blamed too. It’s simple as that!

Lobzang Dorji

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