Media development organisations

Media development in Myanmar stalled for decades, under an oppressive censorship regime and an internationally sanctioned military junta. In 2011, when the military-backed transitional government took office, the grip began to loosen.

Since that time, international donors have flocked to the country, with a number supporting development in the media sector.

Training and development programmes have been used to promote individual and institutional capacity on job-specific, technical skills such as audio recording or improved storytelling and visual framing, or structuring a news article and writing analysis. There are also programmes aimed at strengthening the values of the journalistic community and boosting an understanding of the rights of the press and the right to information. The values promoted through these programs often align with democratic values, with human rights given a top billing.

While former exile media groups like The Irrawaddy, Mizzima and Democratic Voice of Burma have a longer history of international donor cooperation and associated capacity-development training, in-country outlets were not able to take advantage of such opportunities.

Partnerships with media development organisations have provided opportunities to journalists around the country, from small minority ethnic-affairs media outlets to nationwide publications. Some programmes focus on specific issues, such as gender inclusivity, or environmental matters.

In the first half of each year, a Myanmar Media Development Conference is held in Yangon, drawing in participants from across the country, from privately held organisations to state media institutions. Government figures and civil society join in discussions about promoting the role of the media, and the challenges to this.

Yangon Film School seeks to promote film as a medium for communicating messages about diversity, and works on a project basis together with international organisations.

Myanmar’s chapter of PEN International runs a broad range of programs and workshops around the country, as well as advocating for legal reforms that protect freedom of expression and ensure the right to information.

UNESCO works with the Ministry of Information in developing media-related legislation, as well as promoting reforms for the sector by holding dialogues with key stakeholders.

Training opportunities for reporters are held around the country, providing institutional support to training centres such as the Myanmar Journalism Institute and the Journalism Department at the National Management Degree College.

UNESCO has promoted conflict-sensitive reporting, in a bid to facilitate improved communication between ethnic groups and the press. UNESCO is the key implementing agency for the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

The country’s first dual-language human rights podcast, Doh Athan, is a partnership between Fondation Hirondelle and Frontier.

The International Media Support and Fojo Media Institute (IMS-FOJO) has been involved in supporting independent media since 2006, with initial programming supporting exile media. Sweden, Norway and Denmark backed in-country programming between 2012 and 2015.

Programming for the period 2016-2019 is focused on media law and policy, ethical standards, and access to information. They engage across the government, civil society and the media sector.

From BBC Media Action’s nationwide programming on radio and television, to Internews’ work with ethnic media outlets in print, digital and broadcast, to projects run by DW Akademie, there are a range of opportunities available to staff at media organisations through such partnerships.