Friday, August 21, 2009
Petty (S)words and Mighty Pens
I read all the newspapers. It’s a weekly Nu 90 addiction. Am I getting my money’s worth? I doubt it! Let’s just say it’s my way of contributing to the planted-print that is still in need of nutrients, if it’s to bloom.
Plus it’s an old habit and old habits, as they say, die hard. It used to be that Kuensel used to hog all the stands, exercising virtual monopoly.
But no more! These are exciting times! It was hence a refreshing welcome when the two private newspapers got launched. There was a sense of timely intervention.
People could now choose.
This introduction jolted the sloth that was once Kuensel- out of its slumber, making it compete with all its considerable resources in the face of competition.
And the launch of Bhutan Today as the kingdom’s first daily was the final arouser.
That’s what market forces do- it not only provides the consumer with alternatives but it enforces certain standards- raising the bar.
But as time goes on, things fall back to their respective cushions of comfort and staid familiarity.
Worse still, some of them get sidetracked and totally lose the plot.
I started out my pursuit of the journalist’s journey with ‘Kuensal’ as I’d mistyped in my application. Not a good omen to say the least!
I was fired as fast as I had joined. My marijuana-afflictions posed a grave threat to the paper’s clean- cut look, said the paper’s ‘Chief’.
That was it. My career as a journalist was a premature-ejaculation minus the ecstasy or the spunk.
I was damned and barren.
The next couple of years went about dabbling in various sectors; tourism, hotels, discotheques, a teaching stint and travels galore. These travels and protracted stays in foreign lands compelled me t take up jobs nobody in ‘Educated-Bhutan’ would dare touch with a bargepole.
Necessity is the mama of all invention and desperate times call for desperate measures: so waiting tables, bus-boying, dishwashing, janitoring, construction-laboring, road-running, night-guarding, trucking, sub-marine cleaning and a number of mottled jobs trained and taught me in ways and means one can only experience and through that experience, fathom the chaos.
We can only contemplate; about what it means to live in a real world. We cannot share or teach it to those not yet initiated.
It’s like falling in love. You just know.
The economics of ‘Dignity of Labor’ is lipped about but try a little manual labor and you’ll understand what the term really means when sweat meets grime and respect is scant.
In retrospect, the ‘Kuensal’ termination was a blessing in disguise. The experiences post-kuensal was priceless! It was as if I’d been sent out to experience the world as an intern and get back home with a report, a story.
The fact that I never gave up my natural love of the pen and the prose served well; newspapers, magazines, periodicals, newsletters, novels, books, fliers, brochures, trash-papers et al contributed to the craft.
Then you come back home and see how the media is taking root and actually flourishing! That was an encouraging sight. You start working in one or two. The weak link is very clear; too many inexperienced sailors helm the chief’s chair.
The good news is that ‘Bhutanese Media’ will only strengthen- relentlessly and fiercely.
At the risk of making it sound like a ceremonial sermon, I’d say that given the many ‘Perfect Storms’ the media has been exposed to, they have sailed on right ahead.
So what you have is this: boats tossed about in turbulent waters with the captains’ in-charge of the boats as suspects; with mutiny keeping a keen watch.
Thus the need to stand your ground and not give in is paramount. Objectivity never panics, nor grants fears and favors.
Even Captain Jack Sparrow must earn his goatees and braids.
Slowly you take stock of the scenario. Things change for better or worse as it did with my perception of where the various newspapers stand.
Generally they entertain me and occasionally they inform me but they’ve stopped surprising me. Along with sanitized information on plans, policies and programs, tedious entertainment pieces, parched quotes and brusque headlines, the papers are getting sloppy.
And if there’s one medium that cannot afford the luxury of being sloppy, it’s the print-media.
Hind and foresights are preparations and lessons learnt the hard way; that once it’s printed, its there, in black and white.
That’s what makes newsmen a knotty lot- Whether they are headlined, bylined or dead-lined they can’t be ignored.
They get to write their own kickers! Now do that fiercely- without favor and without agenda for that’s what makes the pen mighty- and the swords petty.
In other words, if you learn to trust your ‘Guts,’ the ‘Glory’ is already yours!