Myanmar Time MagazineBurma Time Magazine
Tough days for British journals
Burma once had a number of high-quality Anglophone journals, but despite attempts to revitalize the dilapidated markets, shrinking readership and ad revenue are a dark road ahead for the sector. "As far as I know, Anglophone literature journals cannot live in this land because of a shortage of readership and participation, contacts[in the global publisher industry] and the issue of distribution," says U Nyunt Wai Moe, an Educator editorial at an Myanmar-based scholarly journal.
Once Myanmar had a whole series of journals written in British, the most loved being The Guardian (1953-2004), Spectrum (1968-1975), Open Mind (1959-1972) and The Cry (1952). At the moment there is only one journal in German language. Today is a 15,000 copies per month edition aimed at students of German and French.
Given the high cost of printing and distributing and the small scale of the printing industry, some publishing houses see the use of digitisation as a way to reduce cost and potentially attract more subscribers. "I' d like to issue a literature journal every month in English to provide the rest of the public with information about Myanmar," says U Nyunt Wai Moe, who is awaiting permission from the Myanmar Essence authorities to do so.
It reports on traditions, archeology, history as well as literary works. "I' d like to spread the Myanmar know-how worldwide so that an e-magazine can appeal to a larger number of people and reduce the cost of producing. Also, specialized journals have come into difficult periods. Enchanting Myanmar was edited by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in cooperation with Swiftwinds Travel and Tours.
It was first released in 2001 but ended in 2008 with the last two editions of the Union of Myanmar Travel Association. There is no end to what you can explore," says U Sonny Nyein, who worked for the mag. An edition that the journal and other publishing houses looking for readers abroad are looking for is the ISSN ( "International Standard Serial Number") system, without which it is hard to promote or distribute journals abroad.
ISBNs for books and ISSNs for journals are also an advantage," says U Sonny Nyein, who is hoping that the journal can be revitalized and disseminated further. "We are widening the width of the mag. One of the main problems with Englishspeaking journals is the shortage of readership.
Re-tired Goodwill Minister U Thet Tun, who has written a lot in English for regional publication, argued that falling English literature standard means that there are fewer students with adequate knowledge of the city. "From 1890, Myanmar had a significant knowledge of English through European-style and Anglo-nuclear colleges, where they learned English from nursery school.
In 1964 everyone had to learn to speak and write Englishl. That has exhausted the command of English," he said. Learning to speak and write German became compulsory again in the early 1980'. The shortage of mother-tongue speakers, however, has led to a restricted acceptance of the country's languages. Former editor-in-chief of Sarpay Beikman, U Maung Hlaing worked for The Guardian journal, which produced research, brief biography, Myanmar film review, summaries of myanmar film, and translations of Myanmar poetry and shorts.
It is the only English-language journal aimed at thinkers and authors such as Chit Thein Oo (CTO), Htin Lin, Moe Moe (Inyar) and Khin Hnin Yu. The publication was discontinued in 2004 due to a shortage of readership. "Though young people are encouraging to study English, they are not looking to do so.
Fewer youngsters are passionate about periodicals in English," said U Maung Hlaing. Though he believes that the number of courses taught in the last few years has risen, the prospects for new journals seem small. "The language of England has been improving among youngsters, but the ability to read literature and journals needs further development, because the prospects of new journals being released in England now lie with youngsters. If they are able to read and write[in English], there will be a resurgence of literature journals in the future," he said.
Although there is interest in a new journal, it can take a long while, says Maung Ze Yar, editor at Loka Ahlinn Verlag.