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Journalism: A calling

“I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon,” said Tom Stoppard, a Czech-born British playwright and screenwriter, knighted in 1997.

Journalism, in this sense, is more than a job or an easy route to a paycheck. It is a calling. Ask those hundreds and thousands of journalists around the world who struggle in draconian regimens and who witness human rights violation of the severest kind on a regular basis.

In the face of dangers to their lives and safety, journalists have been known to crusade for causes and change lives and situations, sometimes even the system.

This is hope for us: Bhutan, where the media is a fledgling industry and burdened by all sorts of constraints including financial pressures and freedom issues, truth be told.

We might not have had cases of journalists being held ransom, kidnapped or murdered but the media health and vitality remain poor. Quality journalism is something that we must strive for. With the exodus of senior experienced journalists in recent times, the media is literally starving for talents.

However, we must also give credit to the present young lot of journalists who are fighting odds and working hard to run newsrooms with limited capacity and resources.

In fact, recognition of excellence in journalism with validation such as awards like the JAB annual journalism awards held yesterday can go a long way in encouraging journalists to do better and not lose faith and will along the way.

At the end, if we want quality journalism, the journalists must be both intrinsically as well as extrinsically motivated and that means reasonable, even good pay, conducive and positive working environments, support and mentoring from the veterans, provision of facilities and non-interference from the management.

Additionally, journalists must also be driven and passionate about their work. They must not only be idealists and dreamers but doers who dream to change the world into a better one.

This, they can start by starting with oneself: by being grounded in the right values, principles and ethics. Then this self-awareness and motivation can move onto their work to shake mountains.

Be it broadcast or print, journalists are also intrinsically activists at heart. They may report the facts unbiasedly but one cannot take away the activism from the journalism. Because journalism is not only a job-it is a calling, a cause. And a worthy one at that. That is why it is so important to treat it like one.