LEARNING WITH MONTHLY EDUCATION PULLOUT - JULY 2017
WE are living in an information age. In our daily life, news starts flowing in the moment we wake up in the mornings. Our decision makings are being more and more influenced by what we read and see in the media. With latest technology and devices, news travels instantly from one end of the world to another.
This places more responsibility on those associated with media and journalism. They are not only required to disseminate news on the spot, but also need to provide as correct information as possible. Many are now joining the media business, as they have become aware that a career in journalism not only plays the role of a watchdog over the government and those in power but also helps form a public opinion.
There are a whole lot of prominent media training institutes around the world. Although Myanmar can boast a number of qualified media personnel, a government-recognized college, granting a degree in journalism, was opened only in 2007-08 academic year. The National Management Degree College (NMDC) is in Botahtaung township, Yangon and run by the Department of Higher Education under the Ministry of Education.
“Minimum marks required to enter the college will vary depending on the number of applicants. This is the only journalism school which grants a degree. We accept every student across the nation who wants to join us,” said Dr Zin Mar Kyaw, a departmental head.
Requirements to attend a journalism course Generally, a total of over 400 marks in the matriculation exam is required to attend journalism course in Myanmar. Only 50 students a year are accepted. After four years of study, one would be conferred with a BA (Journalism) degree. If one passes with distinctions in major subjects, they can attend a Master’s course, although this cannot be attained locally yet. Countries like Hong Kong, China and England offer graduate degrees, and some organizations like the Open Society offer scholarships.
Dr Moe Moe Aye, associate professor from NMDC, said, “What is unique here is that we have to learn media ethics and media law as a separate subject. Editorial writing, which is important in journalism, is also included. Print and broadcast media are taught throughout the four-year undergrad course.”
Hundreds of applicants respond to the annual enrollment advertised in the papers. Although the maximum number of students accepted is 50, over 60 students were accepted in this 2016-17 academic year.
“When I completed high school, I was undecided which university to choose. When I looked at the journalism course I found out that investigative reporting is included. I am interested in it and I want to give the correct information to the public. And so, I ended up attending the journalism course,” remarked Ko Htet Aung Phyo, a third-year student.
Media jobs are different from others in that they have no regular fixed hours. Media personnel have to be ready 24/7 to go to the news site and gather news. One journalist’s presentation of the same news would differ from another’s. There is a competition to be the first to present the news, and so without an ardent desire, it would be difficult to work in the media.
“Some parents don’t like a reporter’s job. Reporters are the eyes and ears of the public. There can be dangerous situations for reporters and some may even get arrested. Without strong interest, it would be advisable not to go for it. Also, one cannot become rich by pursuing a journalism career,” said Ko Su Min Ko, a senior reporter from News Federal Times.
Private journalism schools There are also some local private journalism schools. They are the Myanmar Journalism Institute (MJI), Yangon Journalism School (YJS), Center for Myanmar Media Development (CMMD) founded by Saya Maung Wuntha and Myanmar Media Development Center (MMDC) opened by the Forever Group. Some of these schools run short courses in rural areas.
One distinct feature of MJI is its oneyear full-time or part-time diploma course. Foreign experts and well-experienced local journalists teach both theories and practical lessons to students attending full time from various states and regions. Part-time courses are for journalists with a minimum of one year’s experience in their field. Starting from July 2014, the MJI opened a part-time multimedia diploma class with 15 students each from Yangon and Mandalay.
The MJI is financially supported by Germany’s DW Akademie, France’s Canal France International, Sweden’s FOJO Media Institute and Denmark’s International Media Support. Furthermore, MJI’S partners contribute in one way or another – UNESCO approves the MJI curricula, the French embassy provides scholarships and the Forever Group donates necessary materials and broadcasts the class registration announcements for free.
MJI training director U Sein Win commented to The Myanmar Times
Educentre, “In order to develop Myanmar media, the responsibility does not only lie with journalists, it also lies mainly with the government. It should see to it that its ministries provide the necessary information. Obtaining news and information must be legalized and efforts must be taken so that the public have news awareness. In most countries, there is something called the Classified Information Act. In the United States, the classified information becomes public after a period of 20 years since the time it was implemented.”
At the YJS, short-term basic journalism course is currently taught, including a one-month journalistic writing class. Intensive writing classes are held and talented students are awarded journalism prizes. This is a school that current journalists rely upon. YJS has a branch in Mandalay, the Mandalay Journalism School, which offers similar classes and courses.
The CMMD holds a one-month journalism and a photography class in Yangon, and this class is held three times a year in rural cities, according to Daw Lut Latt Soe, daughter of Saya Maung Wuntha, who spoke to The Myanmar Times Educentre.
MMDC has classes that teach video filming and production, including practical and theoretical classes for techniques needed to become a TV presenter.
In addition, another organization, the Internews, is collaborating with foreign countries in giving short-term journalism classes regarding peace and gender issues.
Media vital for genuine democracy According to U Myint Kyaw, a member of the Myanmar Press Council, “News and media is a crucial factor in any field. Media is important not only for a nation’s development but also for transitioning into democracy. Authoritarian countries utilize media just to spread propaganda. Media is vital for genuine democracy.”
In reality, journalism is more than eking out a living as it is linked with maintaining law and order and fortifying democracy. Myanmar is currently transitioning to democracy, so in order for the public to truly gain their right to know information, journalism should be widely pursued.
“Our country’s knowledge on media and information is extremely low. When readers see one sentence in the paper, they should know how to differentiate whether it’s a fact or just an opinion. In order to do that, it is compulsory that journalism should be sought after,” remarked writer Ma Thida (Sanchaung).
Journalism is an extensive and complex subject, so being able to speak and write is not enough to learn it. Only after years of theory and practice, one’s society and country will benefit from it. Therefore, those who are enthusiastic in studying journalism should do so, so as to open the eyes and ears of the public and contribute to one’s nation.