Survival challenges for Dzongkha newspapers

Published on Nov 15 2009 // Media Monitor

November 15, 2009: The Dzongkha language editors from five prominent newspapers of the country have demanded government subsidy to run their national language edition or else give permission to shut.

During their meeting with government officials in November first week, the journalists complained that government has been biased in providing trainings and other skill development opportunity. According to them, only English language journalists are given priority for trainings and workshops. This is the first time Dzongkha language editors have explained their grievances to the government in a formal way.

One of the concerns that these journalists raised was on monitoring quality and content of the Dzongkha edition. It is explicitly observed that English language editions draw immediate reactions from readers while nobody even batted an eyelid to what Dzongkha editions publish. The editors warned that such an indifferent attitude could in the long run compromise journalism ethics.

They discussed with government of forming a full-fledged editorial team for Dzongkha editions as well, if the government provides some subsidy. The government introduced laws that compel publication houses to publish their Dzongkha edition compulsorily. In most newspapers Dzongkha edition is merely a translation of the English news to meet government requirement.

The publishers say publishing Dzongkha edition is a loss making venture since it does not get enough readers and advertisements. The papers even fought against the government few years back for government advertisement in Dzongkha editions. The publishers are in situation to drop their national language edition if they are given the option.

Even the government-owned newspaper Kuensel has combined its Dzongkha edition with English after failing to get enough readers for the national language editions.

The biggest challenge for this language developed since 1960 is maintaining dictionary for all words. Most laws and constitution have gone wrongly interpreted due to absence of appropriate words. Many news item are not correctly translated.