The untimely death of Luntangiin Bolormaa, founder editor of the Mongolian Mining Journal, on 21 November, is an invaluable loss for Mongolian journalism.
L.Bolormaa was a pioneer practitioner of modern journalism in Mongolia, leaving her remarkable contribution through the many articles she wrote, mainly focusing on issues of the economy, society, politics, business, and mining. Recognition of her qualities and skills came when she was chosen for the Best Print Media Journalist Award in 2003.
L.Bolormaa graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree from National University of Mongolia in 1998. Earlier, she had finished a degree course at the Moscow State University of Printing Arts in 1989. Always eager to improve her talents and to keep abreast of global developments, she trained in economic and business journalism in the International Institute for Journalism (IIJ)in Germany, and in the International Center for Journalists in the USA. She also spent some time at the Washington Post and the Grand Forks Herald.
Her working life in journalism began at the Unuudur newspaper in 1998, and she was its first deputy editor, from 2001 to 2008. The daily work in a newspaper is a hard grind, and even as she impressed colleagues with her capacity for hard work in routine jobs, she was intelligent and aware enough of readers’ changing tastes and needs to introduce in her writing several features of journalism in the West, in both style and content.
Quick to sense how the winds of change blowing on all sides would alter the dynamics of the full range of Mongolian society and economy, and with the vision, ambition, and self-confidence to produce a journal of the times, L.Bolormaa decided to branch out on her own to start the Mongolian Mining Journal in 2008. She planned it as a bilingual -- English and Mongolian– source of information about economic and mining topics, both for laymen and those already in the sector. All news and analysis was to be – and always has been -- presented professionally and independent of any extraneous interests. Her instinct that she would be filling a deep-felt popular need was right, and so was her leadership, as proved by the Mongolian Mining Journal, her brainchild, being chosen by the Mongolian Journalists Union as The Best Magazine of the Nation in its very first year of publication, 2008, repeating the success in 2012 and 2013. Looking back, one can only marvel at how, almost singlehandedly, she established MMJ as a specialized journal and made it into an institution.
Mining and Mongolia were becoming synonymous, and L.Bolormaa realized the great need to cover stories at mine sites all over the country, for that is where the action was. This led her to set up the NGO Journalism for Development in 2010. Its basic goal was to train young journalists, and help them acquire understanding and experience, so that they could write on economic and mining topics in an informed way, bringing specialised content into popular understanding.
Her next venture was Hugjil studio in 2011 to produce economic and mining programmes for TV. These have been regularly shown on Eagle, C1 and Channel 25 and have become very popular.
Her first book came out in 2007. ‘Reportage with dress’ (Daashinztai survaljlaguud) is mainly about the challenges she encountered in the initial days when journalism in Mongolia was entering the ‘modern’ age. This was followed in 2013 by Zavgui (Busy), which deals with management issues in the‘new’ journalism. Both books have become required reading for journalism students and for new entrants to the profession. Many read them to improve their professional skills and also derive courage to work as a journalist.
Apart from her contributions to MMJ – closely argued and powerful editorials every month, as well as the occasional articles full of information and analysis -- L.Bolormaa also had her own page in baabar.mn. Most of her writings would generate serious comments and discussions in social media and when people met to talk. She was identified with the Mongolian Mining Journal, and was an iconic figure of independent journalism.
Most journalism, by its very context and nature, is ephemeral but a chronological reading of L.Bolormaa’s articles and reports will open up a nuanced history of events and issues in modern Mongolia. This makes them invaluable for the serious student of the future, marking signposts in the development of modern journalism and also of the economy and the mining sector.
Brave and fearless as editor, L.Bolormaa stood behind her MMJ team whenever any of them faced any professional difficulty and always lent her active support so that they never had to compromise with any pressure. Commitment to the integrity of our chosen profession is her most important legacy to us who had the privilege of working with her.
Outside work, she was the doting mother of two darling girls.We cannot presume to imagine their loss.
Our abiding memory of our editor is of a perennially busy journalist in a complex world. Now she sleeps peacefully in the land of the gods.