The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Edu Centre - Pho­tos: Sup­plied

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.

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