Myanmar Daily NewspaperBurma Daily Newspaper
Negative, but not negative, for privately-owned papers
The post-2011 reform of the printed press gave rise to high expectations for a resurgence of the Myanmar's gold era of journalists, but an unequal playground, a mature markets and the country's online booming economy make it difficult for editors. MOBILE Telephone Revolutions, which began in Myanmar in 2013, have expanded impressively and improved the life of tens of millions of people. But the exploding use of the web has also plunged the autonomous printed world.
Fighting global online rivalry has eaten up newspaper publishers around the globe, but the state of Myanmar has been particularly disheartening as the opening of the telecom markets has been accompanied by high expectations of a resurgence of the printed press after centuries of stifling regime controls. Latest polls show that Myanmar has about 33 million cell telephone subscribers, of which about 80 per cent use smartphones, in a total of 53,624,649 people, according to United Nations January 9s.
A Frontier informational Facebook poll found that three out of 80 of those questioned were dependent on the web, which included newsgroups and Facebook, as the prime message sources, while the remainder were based on daily and weeklies. Easy accessibility is the key driver for folks to say they turn to sites and online communities for their messages.
The daily and weeklies of the business community are also in competition with state journals due to their better sales networks. Printmedia liberty under the rule of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, which in August 2012 removed pre-release restrictions, terminated the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division the following January and in April 2013 allowed the first ever autonomous daily newspaper since 1964.
They were optimistic that these reform would bring a new gold era for the printed world, competing with the pre-crushing free trade union after General Ne Win took over in 1962. The Myanmar audio-visual community was considered one of the most lively in Southeast Asia in 2013.
However, in a gruesome turn for reporters and editors, their expectations of a thriving, self-sufficient printed press were dampened by another of the USDP government's most significant reform measures, its move to open up the telecoms industry to competitive pressures. After Ooredoo and Telenor joined the industry in 2013, the emergence of online and offline publishing posed major issues for the printed press, both in terms of reader retention and revenues generation.
Also the printmedia sector had to struggle with a mature notion of a mature notion. According to the Department of Copyright and Registration of the Ministry of Information, 44 daily papers had been licenced by the end of 2017, 26 of which were publishers and 520 magazine licences, 268 of which were publishers.
Kavi Chongkittavorn, former Myanmar Times journalist and Bangkok Post columnsist, said the U Thein Sein administration's move to end grading before the 2012 release has improved the government's domestic and international reputation. 7Day's editor-in-chief, Ko Ahr Mahn, was unanimous that the "golden age" of Myanmar journalists in recent times was 2011 and 2012.
Printmedia is struggling to stay alive because of the economic downturn in freelance magazines and papers, Ahr Man said to Frontier on January 4. Ahr Man added that another major challenges for the printing press sector are increasing printing cost due to higher levels of demand for printed products and higher taxation.
"Businessmen are more interested in the use of digital content than the printed press and it is one of the key drivers affecting the viability of the printed media," said U Kyaw Min Swe, editor-in-chief of The Voice Weekly. Thet Swe, general director of the Ministry of Information's News and Periodicals Enterprise, said that government papers had a run of approximately 380,000, of which 200,000 were Kyemon (Mirror), 150,000 were Myanma Ahlin (New Light of Myanmar) and 30,000 were Global New Light of Myanmar.
The number of government titles in print is estimated by senior managers in the unrelated press industry to be the same as all privately owned magazines and papers togheter. Government publication not only dominates the markets, but can also draw more publicity because it can appeal to more people through a preferential sales system.
However, U Myo Nyunt Maung, who released two new releases, Thantawsit Daily and Thantawsint Weekly, on January 1, did not scare off the problem. "We' ve already been preparing for the present problems, but we don't know what the new challenge is for the newspaper," says Myo Nyunt Maung, editor-in-chief of both of them.
As the National League for Democracy took power in March 2016, many reporters in the public sphere were hoping that they would do away with the state press, but they continued to work and often published the kind of public word that they were when the nation was still under immediate armed control. "There is no need for state magazines or even an information ministry under a democratically governed state.
Ahr Mahn says, "Their livelihood has a direct influence on the viability of magazines and magazines. As Kavi says, the printed press faces an insecure outlook as a small public publication dominates a very competitive world. He said it was a fight for sovereign independence to live under the current circumstances, and added that the regime must help to enhance plurality and variety in the music world.
"NLD leaders should give more backing to the non-governmental press because it is crucial to raising public consciousness of important developments," Kavi said. In addition to a restricted printing press ad sales force, as more and more businesses choose to buy on-line paper, newspaper is also affected by an increased newspaper tariff on imports of newsprint, which further increases the cost.
Experienced news reporter U Thiha Saw, vice-chairman of the Newsedia Council, formerly known as Myanmar Press Council, said the administration should do more to promote free press. "It is very hard for the public to rival state publications," he said to Frontier.
Thitha Saw said there was still a need for thorough information and investigation based journalists, but many users prefer online newspapers with short, easy-to-read articles and messages that were often counterfeit or propagandistic. "Printed matter will not be a death in the near term, but it needs to be changed to concentrate more on precise, in-depth feature and investigation journalism," he said, and added that the board plans to work with the Department of Information and Culture to launch a New Literature program.
Mr Bertil Lintner, a Swedisch Taiwanese newspaper reporter who has extensive coverage of Myanmar, said that the printed press can only rival online and online newspapers in message time. Messages on public service websites are often untrustworthy because they can be post by anyone, he said. Lintner said that the printed press should make an effort to make only dependable information but also more backgrounds and analyses available in order to better inform the reader.
Kiev Min Swe said he wanted to see times go back when the papers had no rivalry from smart phones and the web. Myanmar's newspaper printing community has been hit hard by the switch to smart phones and the amount of human expenditure on online publishing, he said.