UNESCO training helps Myanmar media improve reporting on Parliament
Twenty-five beat reporters and Parliament staff were trained by UNESCO to improve access to information and coverage of the Myanmar Parliament from 31 August to 2 September 2016. The three-day training managed to build trust between the media and the parliament and equip beat reporters covering the parliament with the necessary skills to perform their work effectively. The training was organized by UNESCO in collaboration with the Hluttaw (Myanmar National Parliament), Hirondelle Foundation and with the support of the European Union.
The current reform process in Myanmar and the opening media environment are posing new challenges to democratic institutions, including the Hluttaw who needs to acquire new know-how in the media field in order to cope adequately with the new situation. At the same time, beat reporters and journalists who are assigned by their respective media houses to report on the parliament, need to understand the dynamics and role of the parliament. In this context, the training implemented by UNESCO brought together Press Office staff from the three chambers of the Parliament – Lower House, Upper House and Union Parliament- and accredited media present in Nay Pyi Taw for the first time.
U Kyaw Naing Tun, Deputy Director of Union Parliament – Pyihtaungsu Hluttaw-, said “the training gave me the opportunity to learn about the difficulties the beat reporters (journalists) are facing and what they want. I will try my best, within my capacity, to fulfill what they need from now on”.
“We had the chance to discuss the difficulties in covering the news in Parliament and I have learnt new effective ways and means to cover the news in Parliament learning from the experiences from other countries. I also have now a better understanding about the challenges that the MPs and Parliament press office staff face in their relationship with the media” said Swan Ye Htut, Senior Reporter from The Myanmar Times.
The first part of the programme included trust building exercises to foster a dynamic and participatory exchange in a safe environment for constructive, open dialogue, followed by team exercises based around actual reporting and coverage. This, contributed to improve understanding between the Press Office staff and the media and to ensure services available to the press respond to the specific needs expressed by journalists.
The second part of the training, focused on the skills and understanding needed to ensure impartial, professional and engaging coverage of the work of Parliament. This included how to execute coverage of complex issues, understandable by the greater public and how they are related to daily life. For this purpose, facilitators conducted practical exercises around topical case studies based on current issues before parliament.
The training was facilitated by two senior Journalists, Ms Anne Bennett, Senior Journalist with extensive experience in training reporters in countries in transition and Mr Thierry Falise, with over 30 years of experience reporting stories from Myanmar.
Due to the current progress towards an open media landscape, new professional practices are necessary and a new relationship between the democratic institutions and the media needs to be built based on open and transparent access to information, underpinned in the principles of Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information and in line with international practices and standards. UNESCO is contributing to this process through the EU funded project “Supporting Media Development in the context of Democratic Reforms and Peace-Building Initiatives in Myanmar”.
For more information on the project, please contact Mr Mikel Aguirre Idiaquez, Media Development Expert (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ms Naing Naing Aye, National Programme Officer (email@example.com).
Main photo Credit: Myanmar Union Parliament @Mikel Aguirre/UNESCO