Special session by guest speaker Ms. Chencho Dema, Reporter, Business Bhutan for Investigative Journalism.
As a part of the training program a guest speaker session was conducted on 12th October 2021 to provide an insight of investigative journalism in the writing and reporting module.
Ms. Chencho Dema, a business/investigative reporter, from a private newspaper Business Bhutan was identified as the guest speaker.
The session started with the Trainer, Mr. Gopilal Acharya, giving a background of Investigative Journalism.He highlighted on how important it is for a good investigative journalist to be aware of current news, tapping into the potential of the Digital Media.
Ms. Chencho Dema, shared her experience of how she got into being an investigative journalism over the course of 13 years in the media industry in Bhutan. She shared with the trainees her struggles and challenges she face professionally as well as with her personal relations while carrying out investigative reporting. She also shared success stories and appreciations she gets from the news readers.
One of the MMJ participant Mr. Thinley Namgyel asked which story the speaker regarded as the most successful story, she shared about a story she wrote about a monk who had died after getting involved in brawl post a party. The group of monk had bunked their monastic studies and had visited a club where they got into a fight with the locals.
She followed the story in depth and wrote about the monk and his life. The follow up on the incident, the challenges she faced while covering the story due to the nature of people and institutions involved .i.e. monk body, which is often regarded as the most sensitive and untouched areas of reporting in Bhutan and the kind feature she did on his life was said to be her acclaimed investigative reporting as a young journalist. This is what she pushed her to bring out stories that were pressing and real she shared.
Another MMJ Participant Ms.Kelzang Choden asked how was she able to balance her personal life and a demanding work as an investigative journalism, speaker shared that it had been a challenge to juggle between her life as a wife, a mom and reporter, however she said it’s the passion and drive to uncover the story that led her on. She also pointed how a woman in media often face hardships when she is a single mother, a divorcee in a closed knit society like in Bhutan, where people know people and it’s easy to stir up rumors and hearsay. She shared her experience of being judged on personal ground for journalistic reporting she did on sensitive issues. She advised the young female reporters to stand strong in what they believe in and carry out their responsibility diligently.
The participants also asked if she was ever scared to do sensitive reporting to which she responded that she gets apprehensive but the fact that the reporting done in the right way with accurate data and information is the way out. Some participants asked about the safety of the journalists, the speaker mentioned that the Bhutanese journalist are safer compared many other parts of the world. She mentioned that she has come across threats and scrutiny for the reporting she did on sensitive issues like corruption, politics, crime, but the accuracy, balanced reporting, being aware of the laws and journalists’ rights are the factors that ensure safety. She added that being bold in putting the point forward plays a key role in taking up this profession.
The speaker highlighted that to be a good Investigative Journalist; one should have the following traits:
- Good reader
- Having a nose for news
- Being passionate to share stories
- Seeking Advice from peer reporters
- Consulting with reliable counterparts
- Fact check
- Protecting your sources
- Keeping records
- balanced reporting
- Being bold
The session ended with the participants, speaker and the trainer watching an award winning film based on an investigative reporting called ‘All the President’s Men’. – A 1976 American political biographical drama film about the Watergate scandal.
Testimonials from participants
Dema Yeshi ‘The session was lively and fun, enjoyed the talk thoroughly’
Sonam Zangmo ‘She was inspirational’
Phurpa Wangmo ‘The takeaways from the speaker’s session are going to be a useful for me, I will keep it in my mind and try to apply it as much as possible’
With support from UNESCO/IPDC