YANGON (March 10, 2014) – U Ye Htut, Myanmar’s deputy minister of information and presidential spokesman, spoke to attendees of a landmark international media conference here on the evolution of the press in his country following ongoing political reforms. “It is the media that empowers citizens to make informed decisions, required to achieve democratic reforms in our society,” he said.
U Ye Htut said Myanmar is becoming more open to the press, both foreign and domestic. He said more than 20 news agencies have opened up bureaus in the country, and that the first privately owned daily newspapers began appearing on newsstands last year after a more than 50-year absence.
He said Myanmar’s domestic media face a series of challenges, including continued mistrust between the government and the press.
“Most of the government ministries are reluctant to share their information with the press and the public,” he said. He noted his ministry is working with others in the government on developing guidelines for dealing with the media, and he hoped that increased transparency would alleviate that mistrust.
Another challenge, he said, is the scant opportunities for journalism training programs. He said that NGOs and various foreign governments are working with the media in Myanmar to develop training for young journalists to help improve the standard of journalism.