Yet Another Blog?


Ordinary citizens without training in professional journalism have been involved in the reporting of news using the latest technology on the Internet. A blog is an example of an ordinary citizen reporting to the world what is going on in his community or relating his ideas and
beliefs to the world.

Blogs normally use informal language with spoken style. However, many readers follow blogs with clear messages and interesting content.

Many Burmese blogs, mostly in Burmese and some in English, have emerged recently. The enthusiasts in Burma started Burmese blogs. They later provided the community with technical know-hows and instructions on how to start a Burmese blog. As a result, the number of Burmese blogs grew
quickly in recent months.

At first, the blogs avoid political content. Later, they started to talk about social issues and economic hardships faced by the local community.

Dissidents inside and outside Burma finally joined the blogosphere to promote freedom of speech. They talked about various political issues in the country. Some bloggers started to retell the stories of activists' experiences in the infamous prisons in Burma. The blogs have become tools to promote political awareness among the youth.

September revolution and blogs

We have already seen the effectiveness of citizen journalists as in the form of blogs in the latest September Saffron revolution in Burma. Many photos and videos were sent out to the world's media by bloggers inside Burma to let the world know what was going on within a few hours, triggering support
for the Burmese people.

Burmese democracy movements during and following Saffron revolution become widespread because of bloggers, both inside and outside Burma. The best example can be seen in Singapore. Singapore Burmese community, in the past, did not openly show their support for the cause of democracy in their homeland. And yet the most effective Burmese movement outside of Burma supporting September
revolution was seen in Singapore.

The Burmese community was able to shake Singapore, which keeps dismissing that Burma issue is an internal problem. The activities by the patriotic Burmese in Singapore are testing the limit of the tolerance of free speech in the island nation.

People inside Burma were able to inform themselves through satellite TV broadcasting
by BBC, CNN and DVB (Democratic Voice of Burma), which use pictures sent in by
the citizen journalists.

What do we need?

Most of the bloggers are not trained in journalism. They do this out of their love for the country and sense of responsibility. Most of them do not even have any formal training on how to get news and report.

It would be more effective if we have some knowledge of the practices of journalism and news writing to disseminate the news out of Burma where most foreign reporters are barred. Burmese bloggers would need to know:
  1. Effective writing and reporting skills
  2. Ethics and standards of journalism

Effective writing and reporting skills

Learning how to report and communicate effectively are important skills for citizen journalists. It is very important for a blogger to have a clear writing style with creative ideas to interest the readers.

Citizen journalists with good reporting skills can fill in the need of the requirements to disseminate quality Burmese news to the international audience. Even among dissident media, except for the Irrwaddy in English and Khitpyaing in Burmese, most of the exiled media have not reached the world class level yet. Most of the media inside Burma are filled with North Korean style rhetoric.

Ethics and standards of journalism

Bloggers need to know best practices of the news media and copyright issues relating to reprint of articles from a newspaper or web site if they are to be communicating to the international audience. During Saffron revolution, some bloggers reprint the whole AFP news story instantaneously within hours. That is definitely an illegal practice.

Teach us introduction to journalism

Many patriotic Burmese can play the role of citizen journalists in the future.

It would be very beneficial if someone at somewhere with the experience of training journalists can give us a short tutorial or workshop on the topic. I would like to suggest to have a short introductory self-study on journalism and how to write effectively to convey our message to the international audience. I myself would like to learn how to turn ideas into well-presented form of reporting.


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