Channel NewsAsia

Media landscape in Myanmar undergoing transformation

Media in Myanmar is undergoing a slow transformation. Where censorship and government regulation was the norm for decades, now private publications are being established, and international media, including Channel NewsAsia, is claiming a foothold.

YANGON: Media in Myanmar is undergoing a slow transformation.

Where censorship and government regulation was the norm for decades, now private publications are being established, and international media, including Channel NewsAsia, is claiming a foothold.

Private newspapers were banned previously in Myanmar, but in 1988, the government allowed private newspapers to be printed on a weekly basis.

But that was closely watched and came under heavy censorship.

However, that changed when the government, last year, allowed private newspapers to print on a daily basis.

There are now more private newspapers covering reports that are developing in Myanmar and publishers no longer have to submit their articles as well as advertisements for vetting purposes since the government eradicated censorship in the country.

However, most local journalists are either inexperienced or not trained properly, leading to stories which are inaccurate and unsubstantiated.

As for international media, the government allowed, in just one year, a handful of selected media including Channel NewsAsia,to set up bureaus in Myanmar. 

A veteran journalist in Myanmar believes the international media could help improve the quality of reporting.

"I think local media can learn many things from international media -- like how to deal with the news sources" said Ko Ko, president of Myanmar Journalists Association, who has been a journalist for about 30 years.

“That means establishing relationships with the news sources and also how they make the news format more interesting, how is their style, how they organise their stories, etc."

Ko Ko, who is also chairman of the Yangon Media Group, had introduced the idea of a political talk show in Myanmar.

“(The idea) is inspired from international broadcasters like BBC and CNN.

“At that time, under the military government, we didn't have that kind of talk show. That's why I really wanted to make a talk show, and I just learned the way they do it. But at that time, we don't have international media like Channel NewsAsia. We just watch from the television screens."

When asked how competition from international media is going to affect the way journalists in Myanmar work, Ko Ko said: “I don't consider those media as our competitors, because we can learn a lot of things from the international media.

“At the same time, international media also can learn a lot of things from the local media. So you can learn our culture. That's why it can benefit both sides." 

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