Myan­mar me­dia urged to be bulwark of so­ci­ety

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - THE MYAN­MAR TIMES news­room@mm­times.com

The me­dia in Myan­mar must act as the con­science of so­ci­ety and strive to bring about pos­i­tive changes, said a top UNESCO of­fi­cial.

MYAN­MAR me­dia must act as the con­science of so­ci­ety and strive to bring about pos­i­tive change, ac­cord­ing to Min Jeong Kim, head of the UNESCO of­fice in Myan­mar.

“We must bring peo­ple to­gether, not tear them apart. We must open the doors to di­a­logue and peace-build­ing, not close them shut,” Kim said.

Over the past year, she noted a height­ened aware­ness among Myan­mar peo­ple of the im­por­tance of free­dom of ex­pres­sion and ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion as nec­es­sary for all other fun­da­men­tal rights and free­doms.

In her open­ing re­marks on Thurs­day at the two-day 6th Con­fer­ence on Me­dia De­vel­op­ment in Myan­mar, she re­flected on the cri­sis in Rakhine State, say­ing there has been a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in me­dia con­tent that con­trib­utes to mis­in­for­ma­tion, dis­trust and ran­cour rather than to in­form­ing the pub­lic truth­fully and ac­cu­rately.

She added that jour­nal­ism must be guided by the eth­i­cal prin­ci­ples of truth and ac­cu­racy, in­de­pen­dence, fair­ness and im­par­tial­ity, hu­man­ity, and ac­count­abil­ity. Now there are civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions that ad­vo­cate the right to in­for­ma­tion and dig­i­tal rights.

In Myan­mar, she said, civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions play a key role in hold­ing the me­dia as well as the gov­ern­ment ac­count­able.

Kim also said that free­dom of ex­pres­sion and ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion are the pil­lars of a healthy and thriv­ing demo­cratic so­ci­ety. “And al­low­ing for the free flow of ideas is also nec­es­sary for in­no­va­tion and to strengthen ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency,” she said.

In the key­note speech, Daw Zin Mar Kyaw, as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor and head of the Jour­nal­ism Depart­ment at the Na­tional Man­age­ment De­gree Col­lege, said that four con­di­tions must be met for Myan­mar me­dia to serve as a plat­form for demo­cratic dis­course – in­for­ma­tion must be pro­vided to all sec­tors of so­ci­ety, me­dia must be in­de­pen­dently reg­u­lated and serve as cred­i­ble sources of in­for­ma­tion, and jour­nal­ists’ safety must be guar­an­teed.

Due to grow­ing in­for­ma­tion in all me­dia, she said that it is im­por­tant to ed­u­cate all stake­hold­ers in gov­ern­ment and non-gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties.

This year’s con­fer­ence has themes rang­ing from me­dia pluralism and sus­tain­abil­ity to ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion and in­for­ma­tion out­reach. Lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional ex­perts will take part in the dis­cus­sions, and the con­fer­ence hopes to come up with tan­gi­ble rec­om­men­da­tions to pro­mote me­dia de­vel­op­ment in Myan­mar.

About 250 jour­nal­ists and other me­dia work­ers at­tended Thurs­day’s open­ing cer­e­mony.

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