With support from the British Council and the European Union, the Thomson Reuters Foundation ran a week-long workshop for journalists in Yangon in July, the Foundation’s first foray into Myanmar.
Twenty young and enthusiastic journalists took part in the Writing and Reporting News workshop from July 15-19. In a country where the media has been subject to censorship for many years and where journalists have had little or no access to training to international standards, all the participants were motivated and engaged.
The workshop covered basic writing and reporting skills, ethics, source building, legal dangers and interview techniques. We ran a multi-media workshop in which five teams produced their own short documentaries. The course also covered economic reporting, social media, and reporting in hostile environments, while a guest speaker led a discussion on covering Myanmar’s new parliament.
A simulated breaking news exercise involving a plane crash in Yangon tested the journalists’ skills in speed, accuracy and teamwork and highlighted some fantastic reporting initiative in the group. The participants researched and conducted interviews with celebrities and business leaders who were role played by the trainers.
At the end of the course, the reporters threw themselves into a major news planning exercise, unflagging after five action-packed days.
In Myanmar’s fast-changing political climate, journalists are enjoying new freedoms and all our participants were keen to question, voice their opinions and share experiences. Many said they would take what they had learned back to their newsrooms and “cascade” the training among colleagues.
“I've been a journalist for about a year now but I didn't know how to report or write in a right way before,” said Thiha Maung Maung, a reporter for the People’s Age newspaper.
“This course really improved my reporting and writing skills. Since the course, I’ve written stories on the US ambassador’s press conference, the Myanmar Youths Union and a media trial. The stories I am writing are very different from the ones I’d written before. They are well-crafted and better.”