December 8, 2017 / By Myanmar
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.