Way forward for media is to integrate traditional and new journalism, say professionals

With the media gasping for breath and trying to survive through COVID times, media professionals are of the opinion that journalists should synergize traditional and new media platforms so that media does not remain in the ancient ages, and would manage to at least perform its mandate.

Traditional journalism refers to mainstream media journalism, where journalistic authority is based on the institution. Traditional media can be explained as television, radio, direct mail, billboards, and more. It is a one-way, direct message that can be costly, yet instantly impactful. Traditional media is gauged by short-term results.

New media are social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, search engine marketing, search optimization, blogs, and many more. It is conversational between the consumer and business. It is interactive and inexpensive to a campaign, and it can yield measurable progress and it is gauged by long-term results.

While both forms of media have their positives and negatives, most companies are seen as unable to balance between traditional media and new media. Blending new media with traditional media in a push-pull tactic is about engaging consumers in innovative ways.

Talking to Business Bhutan, the president of Media Association of Bhutan, Tenzing Lamsang said traditional journalism in the country is not dying instead it is evolving with new journalism. “In terms of content, the way our reporters work has not changed entirely instead it has remained the same.”

He said that each media house does basic fact-checking and the responsibility of the reporters plus the way they write and cover stories remain the same. “I think the foundational pillar of journalism and basics remain in Bhutan, “he said that what has changed in the current scenario is the medium-earlier the medium was like a hard copy of a newspaper or broadcasting on television and radio. But now the medium of journalism has switched to an online platform.

Now journalism has come alive on social media.  “The journalist has to think about the coverage of news on social media, live coverage, issues of the newspaper and the burden of a journalist has increased with evolving social media,” he said, “a journalist or media house should adapt to the new medium looking at the audience.”

On the way forward for media houses,  he said media should now have a strong online presence as people are now more involved in online platforms then reading newspapers. “The young journalist should always focus on the content of the story so that it is widely read by the people.”

New journalism methods on generating revenue by the editorial are not relevant, he said, “We don’t allow editing team to engage in marketing as there is already a marketing team and editorial should focus on stories than generating revenue.”

Executive Director of Bhutan Media Foundation (BMF), Needrup Zangpo said traditional journalism is not dying but it is struggling due to commercial reasons, and struggling journalism is not good for a young democracy because the media is essential to building a democratic culture and keeping the people engaged.

“I am not sure if the digital era has changed Bhutanese journalism but it has certainly changed how newsroom creates and consumes media content like most youth today read the news on social media and access information digitally,” he added.

Additionally, he said the youths are moving further away from the traditional media which necessitates media and journalists to change the medium. Remaining traditional in terms of content and format does not suit the changing taste and preference. “So, the question here is, are our media houses changing fast enough to respond to the digital transformation of news.”

He said the only way forward for the Bhutanese media is to gradually transit to online and become multi-media: print-based newspapers are dying and readers are already online and media should go multi-hand with both traditional and social media.

However, he said journalists must be independent of the marketing team to ensure the objectivity of the stories and the editorial should only focus on the story rather than engaging in marketing.

Veteran journalist and author, Gopilal Archarya said traditional journalism is not vanishing due to social media as social media cannot be a trusted source of information since it is an open platform where anybody can say anything and this can lead to misinformation. “In social media, there is a high chance of fake news being shared and it cannot be a trusted source, so traditional media must continue to play its role through the mainstream with a trusted source.”

He believes social media and traditional media should go side by side, and people should be able to see the fake news and the actual news that is there in the country. “If the media house adopts a digital platform, there is a high possibility to strengthen the company as most readers are focused on online platforms rather than hard copy newspapers.”

Further, he said the editorial team should never go into revenue generation instead they should be always working on the news coverage because the marketing team is there to generate the revenue.

Media personnel, Kunga Tenzin Dorji said Bhutanese journalism should make use of social media platform to garner a wider audience for the media house as most of the readers now prefer to go online and read but traditional media should also be present along with social media while delivering news to the people.

Sonam Tashi from Thimphu