Thursday, August 18, 2011

Press awards to be presented in Burma by private media

Thursday, 18 August 2011 11:45 Zwe Khant

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Private media-based national journalism awards will be presented in Burma for the first time in almost 50 years.

The private news media in Burma will present national
media awards this year for the first time in nearly five
ecades. Photo: Mizzima
The national-level awards, called the  “National Press Award,” will be presented by a selection committee representing members of the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (MWJA), prominent journalists and private media journalists.

“In Burma, journalism awards have not been presented for many years,” said Ko Ko, the secretary of MWJA, told Mizzima.

“The new government says it will respect the role of the media, traditionally the fourth foundation [of a democracy]. So, we think that there will be no objection by the government to our effort to support development of the news media,” Ko Ko said.

“We will try as much as we can to give the awards to the people who really deserve it,”
he said.

Prominent writers and journalists including Maung Wun Tha, Phoe Thout Kya, Ludu Sein Win, Moe Thu, Ko Ko Gyi (The Mirror) and Myint Thein Pe, a photographer, will form the award selection committee. Other journalists would be invited later, Ko Ko said.

Recently, Burmese President Thein Sein said that the new government would recognize the role of the media. Following his announcement, some censorship laws were modified to allow more freedom for publications and journals that do not cover news and civic affairs. However, all media can still be penalized if they publish articles deemed inappropriate. News publications are still censored prior to publication.

A local journalist told Mizzima that the idea of the awards is good. “One question is what kind of journalists they will select to decide the awards,” he said.

Maung Wun Tha said, “The stories that deserve a national award must be important stories for the nation. They could be business news, political news or news stories regarding internal relations. If they [journalists] can conduct investigation, they will be able to write important news stories for our nation and people.”

“We will encourage the committee to be independent it presenting the award,” Maung Wun Tha said.

Under the new government, 178 publications in Burma are focused on sports, health, arts, children’s literature, and technology. Those publications don’t need to pass articles through censors prior to publication, but must submit copies after publication.

A total of 180 publications focus on news, crime, education, economics, and religion, and they must pass articles through censors prior to publication.

To form the award selection committee, a meeting will be held at the MWJA office on Thursday. Local and foreign journalists, members of the Committee for Professional Conduct and officials from media houses will attend the meeting.

Since former dictator Ne Win’s socialist government dissolved parliament in 1962, private media representatives have not presented journalism award in Burma.

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