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With the increasing expectation of major personal magazines for the award ing of day licenses, editors and editors have recognized that the move will bring considerable upheaval. Over 40 years after the closing of Mandalay Ludu - the last privately owned newspaper to be released in Myanmar - many in the printed press industry are wondering whether it is prepared for a day-to-day series.
There is no question for some that major magazines have been able to cope with the increasing pressures on editorial staff associated with the switch to newspapers. "We' re more than ready," says Saya Mg Wuntha, the consulting journalist for Pyithu Khit (The People's Age). "Reporter and writers work tirelessly and the way they create the story and present the messages in today's newspapers is standardized," he said.
A spokesman for the Eleven Media Group, which edits four magazines, confirmed his comment: "The spokesman said, "If the Myanmar Times and our group grant daytime licenses today, they could leave every day in the morning. "The Yangon Times, 7-Day News and The Voice can leave within three to six month every day when they purchase web presses," he said.
As the spokesman said, "everything is ready" for the day-to-day work of the Eleven Group. "We' re unprepared in respect of our journalists' personnel capabilities, level of qualification, morale and equipment," he said. Eleven has made a significant capital expenditure due to the expectations that the printed press will flourish after last year's elections.
Yangon Media Group President U Ko Ko Ko, editor of the Yangon Times, said that a big issue for the media business is whether those who say they are prepared for the changeover have the ability to make the break. "Any magazine would say it is willing to leave every day if it receives a license; but only those who are really willing will stay in the business and the others will stop," said U Ko Ko Ko Ko, who is also Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association Undersecretary.
"No one had this experiance when weeklies were permitted, but they took up the temptation and lived through it; it could be a similar scenario if they left daily," said U Ko Ko Ko. Ross Dunkley, editor-in-chief of the English version of The Myanmar Times and co-founder of Myanmar Consolidated Media, expressed similar misgivings as U Ko Ko Ko.
He said he had no doubts that Myanmar Consolidated Media and Eleven Media Group both had the ability to make the switch. They' re willing, but they also have a challenge,' he said. "Those who can walk every day are the ones who have made significant investment in investment goods, collected a significant number of employees and trained them how to work together as a group.
Whilst the question of media literacy is a crucial one, another is equally important at the centre of journalism: the responsibilities of writers and correspondents to make sure that their publication meets the highest possible ethics standard. 7-Day News journalist Ko Ahr Mahn said that being able to work to high moral rigour under the pressures of short newsroom appointments is an important test for newspaper-readers.
Since there are no academies of journalists in Myanmar and there is no appropriate education, journalists and writers must adapt to this challenging situation through prior professionalism. David Armstrong, an experienced Australia based reporter, editor and associate lecturer at the JRC at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, said it was important for journalists to conduct their research thoroughly and be completely certain that their information was inaccurate.
Reporter should also refrain from asking unpleasant or enemy issues as part of a ªfishing expedition,º said Mr Armstrong, who is also president of Post Media Ltd. in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's only city. The company, which has published two daily newspapers in three years, is jointly held by Mr. Dunkley and his associate, Mr. Bill Clough, who is also a stockholder of MCM.
Armstrong has lived much of his professional life in Australia, where, as in many occidental nations, journalists are aggressively seeking heed. But in Myanmar this may not be an economically viable option. Reporter accountability for reporting the facts with the utmost care was recognised by Deputy Director-General of the Department of Press Control and Registration of the Ministry of Information, U Tint Swe, in a Myanmar Times review last months focusing on suggested changes to the grading law.
Tint Swe said the changes would compel writers and publishing houses to take more responsibilities for editing choices, as well as a closer look at the facts and fulfilment of their job commitment to high ethics as well. "Right now, when a publisher and editor of a periodical or magazin receives a claim about an item they have posted, they use the apology that they have reprinted it after they have received department permission," he said.
"It is my belief that the press should have the freedom to write and voice comments, with restrictions on libel and some real questions of domestic security," he said. Favourite was also endorsed by U Khin Maung Lay, 78, Favourite Newsletter's ceo. "You say we have a discipline based democratic system, but what are the limits for the printed media," asked U Khin Maung Lay, 78, who received the 1956 Burma Reporters' Association Prize for Best Newspaper.
There are many in the sector who enjoy the possibilities that would result from the combined relaxation of censure and the creation of dailies. "We can show with a newspaper what we have and how we are ethically, competently and willing to work for the community and act as a link between the administration and the people," said Ko Ahr Mahn.
He admitted, however, that although 7-Day Newsletter wanted to go out every day and live up to its responsibilities, it was not prepared for personnel reasons - a topic many papers are confronted with. Commenting on the question of personnel ressources, U Ko Ko Ko Ko said that the newspaper journalists could be classified into three different groups.
"First group is hard-working, skilled and appreciative of the important roles newspaper plays in the community; second group wants to be skilled reporters, but it needs adequate education to improve its abilities; third group is only interested in its salary," said U Ko Ko Ko.
"If we go every day, we must abandon the third group," he said. Mr. Ko Ahr Mahn said that another good outcome of the launch of the private newspaper was the strong growth in information to the population. However, once the papers are launched, they will buy fewer papers and only the best will be able to appeal to readers," said Ko Ahr Mahn.
However, when many important actors in the printing industry are available on a day-to-day basis, the issue is when this could be. Commenting on President U Thein Sein's comments on the important part of the press in one of his first speeches after his swearing in on 30 March, Saya Mg Wuntha said he hopes that the administration will begin the day-lab...within a year.
Ko Ahr Mahn said that if the licenses are issued, the authorities should announce their intention in time. Mr Dunkley said he hopes that the licenses will be issued earlier rather than later.