The Irrawaddy News Magazine [Covering Burma and Southeast Asia]

Media Conference Held in Rangoon
By HPYO WAI THA / THE IRRAWADDY Monday, March 19, 2012

RANGOON — A media conference jointly organized by Burma's Ministry of Information and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with International Media Support and Canal France International was held in Rangoon today to discuss media development in the country.

The event, dubbed the “Conference on Media Development in Myanmar,” is a two-day workshop joined by 19 local and international speakers from the media industry. Also in attendance are government officers, embassy representatives, donors and journalists.

According to a UNESCO statement released on March 15, the media is central to upholding and supporting new democratic developments in Burma. Thus the aim of the conference is to share international best practices in media development with local media practitioners, policy makers and civil society, looking at options for future media development in the country.

“We have made a resolve for the success of our ongoing media reforms, and international cooperation is very much important,” said Minister for Information and Culture Kyaw Hsan in his opening speech at the conference.

“We are currently in the process of drafting the new media law, and [will] include the outcome from this conference in the second draft. The outcome of this conference is to promote free and responsible media in Myanmar,” said the minister.

Ye Htut, the ministry's director-general, serves as one of the co-moderators along with journalists and media trainers.

The UNESCO press release said the conference is viewed as a symbol of new times ahead in Burma and sets the foundation for new partnerships that will work to create an enabling environment for media in Burma.

The main sessions of the workshop include Media as a Platform for Democratic Discourse; Media Legislation and Regulation; Media Pluralism and Business Sustainability; Professionalism and Capacity Building; Media Associations and Collective Responsibilities; and Media in Peace Building and National Reconciliation.

On Monday, the first session of the conference, the key speakers were Kavi Chongkittavorn, the chairman of Southeast Asian Press Alliance; Kyaw Min Swe, chief editor of The Voice weekly and Living Color Magazine; and Steve Buckley, the former president of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters.

In another attempt to make media reform, Burma held the National Press Award for the first time on Sunday to honor journalists. In his opening speech, Kyaw Hsan said journalists have to strictly follow the journalistic code of ethics.

The award categories included the best news story; the best feature; the best news photo; the best news cartoon; and the most significant national news photo of the year.

The winner in the final category was a photograph of President Thein Sein meeting opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi last August. The photo, which appeared in the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper, prominently featured a portrait of Aung San, Suu Kyi's father and the founder of Burma's armed forces.

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