Building on progress towards the goal of drafting a coherent ethnic media policy made at the 2016 conference in Loikaw, the sixth edition of Myanmar's annual Ethnic Media Conference, hosted by Burma News International, kicked off in the Karen State capital of Hpa-an on Friday.
Following an opening ceremony including traditional dance and a short speech by Union Minister for Information U Pe Myint, the first day saw City Hall packed with attendees from across Myanmar representing the efforts their regions are engaged in to spread public awareness.
Organisations in attendance include Hinthar Media Corporation, Shan Herald Agency for News, Karen Information Centre, Than Lwin Times, Kantarwaddy Times, Chin World, Mon News Agency, Mytkyina News Journal and Narinjara Media – many in exile prior to the Thein Sein government allowing private media to operate in the country.
At one point during the first day's proceedings, an announcement was made that journalists who have experienced issues with their Facebook accounts being hacked could come to reception to learn about security measures to guard against this.
During a panel discussion on media reach across Myanmar's seven states, editor-in-chief Khaing Mrat Kyaw of independent Arakanese news agency Narinjara addressed the challenges facing local journalists in Rakhine State. He said these include local media sometimes being barred from attending press conferences, as well as not being able to use the term “Rohingya”, despite it being a widely accepted usage.
“One of the other problems is that the Bamar people don't read or support ethnic journalists. They only read the mainstream,” Khaing Mrat Kyaw said. “We would like more developed mainstream media to help ethnic media groups.”
While BNI executive director Daw Nan Paw Gay said that one of the key objectives of the conference is to come up with a draft ethnic media policy, she also expressed hope that “all of the participants from different countries will understand media literacy, and I hope they can share with their communities about this conference.”
The Sixth Ethnic Media Conference in Hpa-an runs through April 29.