Ask, and you shall receive. The people of Burma are undergoing a progressive change in their state-run media that is slow to start- but has nonetheless begun.
The military coup of 1962 has reduced the reading of state-run newspapers for the mundane purpose of the obituary page. The new leader of the Ministry of Information, U Aung Kyi, has begun to take steps to change this. Starting in the middle of October, three state-run daily newspapers will be printed in color. However, a prominent Burmese journalist notes that though this change is significant, readers would benefit if the newspapers actually reflected the perspectives of the people.
U Aung Kyi has not only updated the look of the newspaper but also some content. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to the Burmese House of Representatives earlier this year, but her affiliation with the opposition party has previously kept her name from the state’s media. On September 12th, state newspapers ran a story regarding her receipt of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal. Under the previous minister’s leadership this would likely not have happened. One editor of a Myanmar column contended this was a sign of the government’s attempt to ethically write in a way that is cohesive to government policy while reflecting its reform.
When considering the context from which it stems, even small steps like giving newspapers colors should receive credit. Burma’s infamous history of suppression of free speech is not yet fully amended- but change must always start somewhere. The implications of the color addition may benefit the Burmese people in a way that calls for further transformations of their media.
Here is to hoping.