Honing Multimedia Skills among Bhutanese Journalists

12 participants from eight media organizations completed the program with 4 more completing selected modules (Pic: BMCI)

Sumitra a freelance radio producer and jockey show her group mates how a storyboard for radio production looks like. They are busy producing a podcast on the contributions made by the Dessups in times of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Kunzang and Dema, print media journalists, simultaneously puts up their news stories on the website and rush along to meet the deadline. They are editing, producing and working just like a media house.

These young men and women are the beneficiaries of the Multimedia Journalism program rushing to complete their last assignment on the Digital Media module. 

They have come together once again after weeks of attending online classes from bedrooms, offices, cars and fields which had become a part of their new norm apart from working for their organizations.

They are reporting local issues through texts, interviews and infographics using multiple platforms like blog posts, podcasts, and videos. 

This group belonging to eight different media houses who chose to challenge themselves with learning while working by participating in this six month program conducted by Bodhi Media and Communications Institute (BMCI).

They seem to have achieved what they wanted. “The overall sessions were very meaningful, and it has upgraded our knowledge in terms of reporting skills,” said Thinley Namgyel, a participant.

Similarly, Chhimi Dema another participant said, “The highlight of the course was that it equipped us with skill to shift our learning from onsite learning to online learning. It has been a wonderful learning experience.”

Another participant, Sherab Dorji, said he had fun doing the zoom classes and became better at using the platform. Whereas, Tenzin Choden said that she enjoyed the sessions and hopes to put all the learning into producing good stories to inform people.

According to the overall feedback from participants, trainers and media support organizations, such training programs are instrumental in skilling, up-skilling and re-skilling the media professionals.

12 participants from eight media organizations completed the program with 4 more completing selected modules.

The program was introduced in collaboration with Asian Institute of Journalism and Communications and the Journalists’ Association of Bhutan with financial support from UNESCO IPDC.

It was initially piloted in 2019 as a year-long program and six participants from various media backgrounds completed the program. 

The program follows a block model curriculum where only one module is taught at a particular point of time, individuals can enroll in any number of modules and acquire a Diploma after completion of all the modules.

There were seven independent trainings within the Diploma to facilitate participation for those who wish to develop skills on specific modules.

Although the program had to go completely online for some modules due to the pandemic, the spirit of these young and eager learners did not dampen. With grit and determination, they completed the program. 

Most of the trainers were seasoned journalists from Bhutan. “We were fortunate to engage the best minds from the media industry to groom our young participants as trainers and guest speakers” said Chandra, Academic Head, BMCI.

“I think the multimedia diploma training happening for the first time is very timely and useful for the media industry in Bhutan. The new batch of practitioners with these skills will contribute a lot to the media industry, so it is a very good news we look forward to BMCI organizing and implementing more such courses,” said Needrup Zangpo, Executive Director for Bhutan Media Foundation.

Sangay Choki, Program Officer, Journalists’ Association of Bhutan (JAB), acknowledging the funding support from UNESCO, said that JAB looks forward to similar collaboration with BMCI and shared how successful the collaboration between BMCI and JAB has been in conducting such a program.

After more than a decade of providing short-term training, BMCI introduced a Diploma program on Multimedia Journalism for new entrants and aspiring journalists as well as for those who intend to switch their current jobs to journalism within the media industry.

It is designed to respond to Bhutan’s need for qualified and professional journalists for all platforms, said the Academic Head, BMCI.

“We believe this program can make significant contribution to the professional growth of media in Bhutan, if we continue to get similar support and opportunity to work in close collaboration with like-minded individuals and organizations,” said Pushpa Chhetri, Director, BMCI.

She added that BMCI would not have been able to provide such a program without the support from UNESCO IPDC. 

She urged relevant media support organizations within Bhutan to provide scholarships and other necessary support to ensure sustenance and continuous improvement of the program.

She also added that BMCI will continue to seek assistance and engage like-minded and experienced professionals of the media fraternity to groom aspiring and working journalists. 

  So far BMCI has conducted 11 short-term media and journalism related training supported by UNESCO with the Multimedia Journalism being a long-term training program.

BMCI aspires to create a professional, independent and responsible Bhutanese media industry. It believes that the institute can focus on quality and professionalism required for such training programs if continued support and collaboration is extended from the relevant stakeholders.

Contributed by Khina Maya Ghimirey, Freelancer