Mar 112014
 

A panel of journalists who were blacklisted under military rule discuss how they gathered information from outside Burma, and the tremendous courage of their sources within the country. The program includes a special surprise award presented by the panel to one of those “unsung heroes”, U Nay Min, for his bravery and personal sacrifice in getting information to outside reporters during the 1988 popular uprising against the regime.

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Mar 112014
 

YANGON (March 11, 2014) – Several cybersecurity experts held a panel discussion at the East-West Center’s Media Conference today to discuss ways journalists can keep their data and contacts secure. (Watch the video of the panel.)

Alan Pearce

Alan Pearce

“Everybody on the planet who uses the Internet needs to worry,” said Alan Pearce, a British journalist who specializes in cybersecurity. “If a cyber-criminal or an intelligence agent wanted to target anyone in this room, all they need is your email address.”

He went on to say that surveillance tactics against journalists can be used to figure out what they are doing at any given time.

“They can read your emails, see all of your photographs,” he said. “They can even turn on your camera and your microphone and follow you around.” Continue reading »

Mar 112014
 

YANGON (March 12, 2014) — The room listened in silence as an educator from Singapore, Cherian George, posed the question: “How long do we have to wait when the media crosses the line?”

George, an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University and director of the university’s Asia Journalism Fellowships, had just recounted the role of radio in the Rwandan genocide, when extremist radio stations “went to the extent of giving instructions on how to kill people and even broadcasting names of who to kill.”

George said regulation of hate speech is complicated because it brings into conflict two democratic principles: liberty and equality. “The principle of liberty offers the freedom to cause offense,” he said. “But equality tells us we need to protect vulnerable groups from speech that would harm them.” Continue reading »

Mar 112014
 

Union of Myanmar presidential spokesman and Deputy Information Minister U Ye Htut fields press questions after his address at the 2014 East-West Center International Media Conference in Yangon, Myanmar, on March 10, 2014. The questioning touches on some of the country’s most sensitive issues, including the plight of Rohingya Muslims in the country’s western Rakhine state, new restrictions on foreign journalists’ visas and amendments to the country’s constitution in advance of elections in 2015.

Mar 112014
 

YANGON (March 10, 2014) – Jacob Mathew, executive editor and publisher of the Malayala Manorama newspaper in India, discussed media trends, strategies and freedoms in the digital age in a luncheon address today at the East-West Center International Media Conference in Yangon, Myanmar.

Jacob Mathew

Jacob Mathew

With a 125-year history of publication, Malayala Manorama has a circulation of 2.2 million, reflecting a trend of healthy news consumership in Asia, he said, noting that 27 out of 47 Asian countries have at least a 90 percent literacy rate, and the populations of six of those countries are expected to double in the next 30 years.

Mathew said the challenge newspapers face is still how to make content more engrossing for the reader. “Unique, credible content will always be the winner,” he said.

He noted that publishers must also learn how to use social media to attract more attention and elicit reader response. With the influx of digital media, readers devote less of their time to reading print content, Mathew said. Continue reading »

Mar 112014
 

YANGON (March 12, 2014) – A panel at the East-West Center’s International Media Conference examined the United States’ role in Southeast Asia and its relationship with the other great powers in the region.

Great powers panelMuch of the discussion centered on the U.S. relationship with China and the so-called “pivot” in American foreign policy toward Asia. Ralph Cossa, the president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Pacific Forum, said that American interests in the region were nothing new. He said George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton had similar interests in Southeast Asia, but “during the George W. Bush administration, we got somewhat distracted by 9/11, by Iraq, by Afghanistan.”

“Is the pivot about China?” he asked. “Yes. It’s about China. It’s about Japan. It’s about Australia. It’s about Myanmar. It’s about ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations]. It’s about the Koreas […] but it’s not certainly all about China.”

The more important question, Cossa said, is whether the pivot is against China. “And the honest answer is no—not yet,” he said. “Can it be against China? Absolutely, but that would be driven by Chinese actions, not American interests.” Continue reading »

Mar 112014
 

Recently, journalists and scholars attended a East-West Center’s 2014 International Media Conference on free press issues in Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Rangoon, Burma). Just a few short years ago, holding such a conference in such a place would be considered unthinkable: a military junta ruled the country, and the state of journalism in Myanmar was considered to be oppressive at best. Continue reading »

Mar 112014
 

YANGON (March 10, 2014) – How will the regional media landscape be impacted by the planned American drawdown of troops in Afghanistan later this year? That was the question pondered by an international panel of journalists at the East-West Center’sInternatinal Media Conference in Yangon, Myanmar.

Moderated by Washington Post foreign policy blogger Maxwell Fisher, the panel looked at how the media in Afghanistan, India, Iraq and Pakistan has covered the war, and what local media are focusing on as the U.S. prepares to withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan more than a dozen years after invading the country in the wake of 9/11.

Afghan journalist Najiba AyubiNajiba Ayubi, director of The Killid Group, a media company based in Kabul, said she believes the narrative coming out of Afghanistan is inaccurate. “It’s a pity that not only the Afghan public, but also the world public must consume dramatic news and statements saying the U.S. will leave and there will be a new Civil War and al-Qaida will become strong again,” she said. “I do not think the U.S. Army will draw down from Afghanistan in a way that will affect U.S. interests in the region. This is the subtext. Of course, the U.S. would prefer to be kindly invited to stay and to use the military bases.”

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Mar 112014
 

YANGON (March 11, 2014) – At a session today of the East-West Center International Media Conference, a group of foreign correspondents discussed the challenges they and their colleagues face as they try to do their jobs.

Jim Brooke, the incoming editor of Cambodia Daily, noted recent struggles involving the intentional targeting of journalists. “The Ukrainian riot police were apparently aiming at photographers,” he said. “You had 167 journalists injured. There was a consensus that photographers were being targeted.” He advised attendees working in such conflict zones or areas that may be dangerous to “do [your work] quick. Do it clean. Do it fast … if you go in and out, you can report a story without getting caught.” Continue reading »

Mar 112014
 

YANGON (March 11, 2014) – Journalists working in countries experiencing a transition to democracy spoke to attendees at the East-West Center’s Media Conference today on challenges they face in doing their work.

A common theme brought up by the journalists was a lack of institutional support. Moayyed Ali Jafri, a correspondent with Pakistan’s The News International Daily, said that security for journalists has been a major issue, with the police and intelligence services sometimes being complicit in violence against reporters. “Once you report, you’re kind of on your own,” he said. Continue reading »

Mar 112014
 

YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are fast becoming standard tools in newsrooms. But social media merely provides scraps of information; journalism puts it into context. A panel of digital journalists discuss  “How to Discover, Validate and Distill the Best of Social Media for Reporting“: the tools they use to sift through the noise on social media; how to discover and verify fake, non-factual content; contextualize hate speech and potentially defamatory material; and build the right team workflow processes to ensure fair and balanced reporting.

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Mar 102014
 

YANGON (March 11, 2014) A panel of journalists and experts on the Korean Peninsula discussed the challenges of reporting in this area at the East-West Center International Media conference in Yangon, Myanmar. (Watch video of the panel)

Journalists said that reporting news on North Korea, the most isolated country in the world, is difficult, and that they heavily rely on outside sources for their reports. Steven Boroweic, a journalist based in Seoul, said his sources include North Korean refugees, experts and activists. Information from such groups cannot always be verified, he acknowledged, while some activists have their own agendas. Continue reading »

Mar 102014
 

The downsizing of overseas news bureaus and a dwindling number of staffed correspondent positions give freelancers new opportunities to cover stories in far-flung locations. But many independents lack structural support and safety nets while in the field, and communication with the newsroom is often frustrating. A panel of experienced freelancers address these dilemmas with the intention of bolstering cooperation between media professionals.

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Mar 102014
 

Casey Morell, part of the Missouri School of Journalism coverage team for the 2014 East-West Center International Media Conference in Yangon, files a radio report on the conference for the BBC World Service.