Saturday, July 2, 2016

Bringing the Middle Path home

A prophet has no honour in his own country (John 4:44)

Finally I am getting some mainstream press coverage in my own country for my works on Middle Path Journalism. ( I would like to thank Yonten Tshedup, a young and motivated journalist, and the editors at Kuensel.

It is better late than never, as a cliché goes. I feel elated because if someone should benefit from my works, however small that benefit may be, my own people come first. But it is not for me to dictate that, sadly.

Presenting middle-path journalism in Paro (Photo - BMF)
The fact of the matter is, the same concept has been not only accepted elsewhere but the prestigious Chulalongkorn University (No. 1 in Thailand) will incorporate some of the ideas in the Mindfulness Communications – a model they developed for the whole ASEAN countries. They will also teach from next semester in their regular university offerings.

Last November, when I first presented my paper on the topic at the International GNH Conference in Paro, five people approached me approached me right after I got off the stage. They were all chillips – no Bhutanese - two from Chulalongkorn University, one from University of Hong Kong and two from Malaysia. They invited me to deliver the same talk in their respective places, ever since. My lecture at Chulalongkorn University got the attention of the Strait Times Singapore ( Subsequently, in Hong Kong the Buddhist Door people found my proposition interesting too.  (

The Selesian fathers in the Catholic school I went to as a child often used to tell us that a prophet is quite often recognised in another country. How true! My hope is that people here will wake up sooner than later. For, our mainstream media is lost. The private media is dead. The social media is dividing this country. At least, in the pre-2008 era, there were the good old BBS and Kuensel that “brought the country together” and “kept the nation informed” respectively – through the development journalism model.

Now all our media is model-less.

As a storyteller, let me end with a story. A true story.

In September of 2009 a devastating earthquake hit Eastern Bhutan. The whole country shook for almost a minute. Houses crumbled, lives were lost and even mountains gave away. I was then serving as the Media Director to His Majesty the King. News of untold destructions and deaths started pouring in every minute. I was on the phone getting information on a continuous basis. But after few days I was getting tired. Not for working 24 hours per day but with the deluge of only bad news. 

So I called up the Kuensel Correspondent in the area and asked if there was nothing good happening there. I was definite that there would be help and humanity going around in such times. There could be some good things happening there like people helping other people who had lost more. Two days later, a news article appeared in Kuensel about a health worker who saved a child from a house that was crumbling and had killed rest of the family. The health worker risked his life. The story of heroism and humanity lifted the whole nation. Coincidently, that’s one story that I remember from that tragic event. 

In the days after the earthquake, His Majesty the King visited the area. I ensured that what we released to the mass media were not again stories of agony and misery but stories of hope, strength and resilience – and stories of restoring laughter and joy and stories of reconstruction and reassurance.

This is an example of middle path journalism in practice.

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