Tag Archives: Burma

WAN: Newspaper industry body calls for release of Burmese journalists

The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) has written to Burma’s military junta asking for the release of two Burmese journalists and an end to the repression of journalists working in the country.

According to reports, journalist Ngwe Soe Lin was sentenced to 13 years in prison on 28 January after sending reports to the Norwegian-based broadcaster Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB). Lin’s sentencing follows the 20-year punishment handed out to journalist Hla Hla Win late last year.

Full story and letter sent to the Junta at this link…

Burma VJ film nominated for ‘Best Documentary’ Oscar

CNNGo.com reports that ‘Burma VJ’ is among the nominations for best documentary in this year’s Oscars.

Recently featured on Channel 4, Anders Østergaard’s film documented young video journalists during the 2007 uprisings led by Buddhist monks in Myanmar. From the Channel 4 website:

Armed with small handycams, the Burma VJs stop at nothing to make their reportages; their material is smuggled out of the country and broadcast back into Burma via satellite and offered as free usage for international media.

The whole world has witnessed single event clips made by the VJs, but for the very first time, their individual images have been put together with Østergaard’s sparingly-used reconstruction to tell a riveting story which offers a unique insight into high-risk journalism and dissidence in a police state, while at the same time providing a thorough documentation of the historical and dramatic days of September 2007, when the Buddhist monks started marching.

Other Oscar ‘Best Documentary’ nominations include ‘The Cove’; ‘Food, Inc,’ ‘Which Way Home’ and ‘The Most Dangerous Man In America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.’


RSF: ‘New wave’ of obstacles for communication in Burma

“Reporters Without Borders condemns a new wave of obstacles that Burma’s military government has imposed on internet usage as well as its expulsion of two American journalism teachers on May 6. It is getting steadily harder for Burmese to send emails or access websites while all means of communication were cut yesterday around opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s home,” the organisation reports.

Full story at this link…

Online Journalism China: shortcomings in the earthquake relief effort going unnoticed in the scramble to present a front of national unity

As the catastrophe and media blackout in Burma continues, coverage of the Wenchuan quake in China has taken centre stage.

While pictures and information on Burma are scarce, the international media has been given a free hand on the ground in Sichuan province, perhaps as natural disasters offer an unrivalled opportunity for the government to show itself in action.

Western media has produced some moving accounts of the tragedy as well as some more critical pieces on how the government has handled the rescue effort.

In the Guardian, Naomi Klein reports disgruntled parents lamenting the collapse of their children’s schools, and Tania Branigan quotes claims of corruption and misuse of funds.

Unsurprisingly, coverage here has primarily been on the rescue effort, the suffering and on Wen Jiabao and Hu Jintao’s visits to quake-hit areas.

Domestic media has focused on the Party’s action plan and prominently featured press briefings detailing the government’s response, as well as making full use of photo opportunities for Party leaders.

Wen seems to have become the human face of the Party’s disaster relief efforts. He is visible in the same way that he was during the winter snow disaster; where he personally visited the gridlocked Guangzhou train station to address stranded spring festival travellers.

Thursday’s China Daily featured a picture of him holding two forlorn looking girls by the shoulder and quoted him as saying: “I am grandpa Wen Jiabao. You must hold on, child! You will be saved.”

China Daily has focused on the human cost and survivors’ tales, running capped-up front-page headlines “MAGICAL MOMENTS,” and RESCURERS RACE AGAINST TIME”.

Like the snow disaster, a lot of prominence is being given to donors’ generosity and volunteer rescue efforts (including those of foreigners on the ground) as China again attempts to present a united front.

However, the New York Times carries an excellent article asking why the government has accepted aid from Japan, Taiwan and Singapore but rejected offers from others.

Despite the huge mobilization of the army, the troops lack the necessary heavy lifting and drilling equipment to dig for survivors.

Such shortcomings seem to be going unnoticed amongst the scramble to present a front of national unity, and few here are asking why professionals from the West are being told to stay away.

According to China Media Project (CMP), critical coverage of the quake has apparently been banned by an edict discouraged by one of  numerous directives intended to stop the spread of malicious rumours stories that may show the authorities in a bad light.

However stories like this, on the poor structural integrity of the schools that have collapsed, seem to have passed unnoticed.

CMP also runs a translation of another editorial by Southern Metropolis Daily editor Chang Ping. Chang highlights the dubious nature of the law on spreading false rumours in the light of the public’s overwhelming demand for information regarding the quake.

The law has came to the fore after a number of false rumours also surfaced in chatrooms and forums alleging that the authorities had somehow been warned that the quake was coming but suppressed the information, it would have perhaps been easier to dispel some of these myths quickly if the ever present spector of the authroities didn’t loom large and automatically make people suspicious of any news that suggests underhand activity on their part.

It will be interesting to see if the commercial media will begin receiving pressure to avoid critical reporting in the coming days when fewer survivors turn up and locals face the grim task of moving the dead and contemplating rebuilding their towns and homes and lives.

That will be a time for much reflection – and a lot of reflection may lead to some touchy questions.

Social Media Journalist: ‘You have to be selective, keeping across all sites dilutes the value of the good ones’ Vicky Taylor, editor BBC Interactivity

Journalism.co.uk talks to journalists across the globe about social media and how they see it changing their industry.

image of Vicky Taylor, BBC Interactivity editor

1. Who are you and what do you do?
Vicky Taylor, editor of Interactivity for BBC News. I run the team which produces the Have Your Say section of the website and the UGC hub which takes all the fantastic content the public send us and passes it on to all other BBC programmes and sites – internationally and in UK.

2. Which web or mobile-based social media tools do you use on a daily basis and why?
Apart from Have You Say on BBC news website (on my pc but also on my phone as read only) I get news email alerts on my phone and on my PC about upcoming BBC programmes.

I’m also on Facebook, but use that mainly to contact old friends now in Australia (not from BBC of course), and LinkedIn, which is more useful for business contacts.

Your net worth is your network as the guy who set it up said recently! I started off using del.icio.us to bookmark interesting articles but never have enough time to do it justice. As a team we look at Youtube, Shozu, Seesmic, MySpace and some team members are on twitter so we monitor that too.

3. Of the thousands social media tools available could you single one out as having the most potential for news, either as a publishing or newsgathering tool?
Facebook has been fantastically helpful to our team in finding people with specialist interest.

When the Burma uprising was happening, a colleague found the Friends of Burma group and through them got in touch with many who had recently left the country and had amazing tales to tell.

Journalists now have to know how to seek out information and contact from all sorts of sources and social network sites are key to this.

4. And the most overrated?
I wouldn’t pick out one as overrated as they all have different uses for different audiences. I think though you have to be fairly selective, as keeping across all the sites and emails you may get if you go into everything is just not possible and dilutes the value of the really good ones.

No Comment TV

Digital Spy reports that Euronews, a television news channel covering world news from a European perspective in seven languages, is launching its own online news channel on YouTube.

A quick glance on YouTube shows that EuroNews’ No Comment TV channel has existed on the site for some time (since April at least), but it’s still worth a look.

No Comment TV, an extension of an existing EuroNews strand, provides footage of news events without any commentary.

Takes a while to get used to and there is a danger of playing guess the story, but there’s also an immediacy to the clips that the edited bulletin format complete with news reporter can lack.

The clip of the recent riots in Burma illustrates this nicely.

Round-up: Blogging in Burma

As Burmese citizens joined their nation’s monks in pro-democracy demonstrations, the international media became reliant on bloggers and eyewitnesses posting images, videos and accounts to the web.

Two weeks later, this flow of online information has been stemmed by a government crackdown, which, according to The Guardian, has now made all websites with the .mm suffix unavailable and reduced the number of active blogs from the region to almost zero.

Increasing control over the internet is thought to have begun last week with a block on access from within Burma to some political blogs.

A complete block of Google-owned service Blogger.com followed according to the same Guardian report, and, on Friday, internet access stopped entirely.

Through its English-language TV channel MRTV-3, the military Junta has broadcast messages branding international news providers as liars and ‘destructionists’.

The BBC has been asking for first-hand clips and statements by way of specialised comment boxes at the end of articles on the events:

Are you in the area? Are you affected by the events in Burma? Send us your comments using the form below.

You can send your pictures and moving footage to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to + 44 (0) 7725 100 100

Click here for terms and conditions on sending photos and video

When taking photos or filming please do not endanger yourself or others, take unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

Audio and video, pictures and text sent to the BBC from people in Burma allowed for frequent, on-the-ground updates.

However, a BBC report on Friday said:

Journalists at the BBC News website say no images are now being sent from Burma and the previously fast flow of e-mail comments sent from inside the country has slowed to a trickle.

Not all sites have lost communication: The Irrawaddy news website, produced by exiled Burmese journalists, carries photos of the protests from Friday and text updates, including alerts from today.

Some blogs published by third parties, such as London-based blogger Ko Htike and the Burmese Bloggers without Borders site, which was started in response to the demonstrations, are still active.

Within Burma, internet users have been gaining access to news sites through foreign-hosted proxy sites, such as your-freedom.net and glite.sayni.net, but the latest restrictions to internet access will make even these tactics impossible.