Unique Myanmar TV: Ethnic language news tackles difficult questions
– Independent TV news on eight different ethnic Myanmar languages has never before been done, says Aung Naing with a smile in between checking scripts for the participants at the ongoing TV training in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
It's from here, from the studio of DVB, Democratic Voice of Burma that Burma News International; BNI will air the unique program.
Aung Naing is the newly appointed producer for ETV, Ethnic TV news, planned to go on air later this spring. It will be first time in the history of Myanmar that people will be able to follow independent news on their own language on TV.
- There are many ethnic groups in Burma and we have a long history of problems and conflict. Each ethnic group think they have less rights than the others, so by knowing more about each other it will make them understand more and could help bring sustainable peace in the future.
Burma news international, BNI is a new local partner to Fojo International and organises a network of mainly ethnic Burmese news media groups all over the country. On their webpage they update news from their different partners everyday and is one of the few places you can read stories from all ethnic areas. A sister organisation, Myanmar Peace monitor inform of everyday events in the different armed conflicts, from regular fights to planned peace talks and is often used as a source for other media.
In total there will be eight languages on the news, including Myanmar, there will be Karen, Kareni (Kayah), Kachin, Chin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. The basic TV news training in Chiang Mai, initiated by BNI and Fojo and International Media Support, IMS, is financed by the Swedish Government and teams of two from basically every state attended.
Fojo and Aung Naing worked intensely for two weeks with everything from basic news evaluation, the complexity of ethical news reporting, research, scripts writing and production planning to shooting voxpops, features and news stories. In the end each team, equipped by Fojo international, produced a ten minute long TV-news program including all of the above-mentioned ingredients.
– As a journalist we can listen to both sides of the conflict, and then we can present them in the news, says Man Yu Kyaw from Narinjara, Independent Arakanese News Agency, between recording a stand-up and editing his news program.
– We can also ask for solutions from everyone involved, and fairly report this, by doing that, I hope a solution will come closer.
Man Yu Kyaw is speaking of one of the most urgent issues in Myanmar presently, the conflict with the Rohingya people living in the west state of Rakhine. The minority group has suffered from severe discrimination for years and this is causing an outrage in the human rights community. In Myanmar however, the question of their rights is hardly possible to speak about, not even amongst journalists. At the training Man Yu Kyaw found a way to tackle sensitive issues in his state, avoiding stereotypes, spreading rumours and describing the problem with a minimum of offensive to both sides. And he is eager to put the new knowledge of TV to use.
– Print media doesn't reach the remote areas, but with TV, anywhere there is electricity they can set up a TV.
Esther from Kachin News Group in Kachin state where a regular war is going on since the peace agreement was broken between state and government troops in 2011, want to use TV to tell people the truth about what is going on.
- As our areas have no peace, people are very interested in the news. If they don't get the good, correct news, the people will not go forward to find solutions, she says hoping that good journalism will help towards peace.
She says that since everyone is using his or her Mobil phone now, TV gets more important.
- As a journalist I need to be able work by myself. Now I have the skills to do a complete news insert by myself. I am so happy about this training, she smiles.
- The development of the group during the training is impressing, says Aung Naing.
- They are improving more than I expected and can now do their own news stories for TV with editing and all so I'm impressed.
Still there are a few obstacles to be met before going on air.
- Different groups have different skills and levels of experience, the communication between them and us is sometimes difficult since some areas have low access to internet. And also sending the video files to the station in Thailand could be difficult.
Fojo is hoping to be an asset when it comes to finding solutions for some of these problems but also to develop further ethnic language reporting with BNI. And Aung Naing hopes the future holds independent TV stations in each state, inside Myanmar.
- All groups have their own identity and language, so I hope in the future every area can have their own independent TV station too.
Petra Quiding, Text and photo
Ying Oun Mwe, Photo no 3 from top