Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Viet Nam and Thailand are five countries in the Mekong region with many socio-cultural and geographical similarities, and with media landscapes that often face similar challenges. Despite these similarities, there remains a lot of potential for collaboration among these countries when it comes to the sharing of information, experiences and resources to boost the professionalism of journalists. There is a clear lack of professional regional networks that can promote journalistic best practices and encourage learning from each other.
With the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and UNESCO, the Fojo Media Institute organized a planning conference in Bangkok, Thailand on 13 and 14 August 2014, attended by representatives of media institutes from the five Mekong countries, with the objective of exploring the feasibility of establishing a sustainable capacity-building network for mid-career journalism training in the region.
The conference saw a lively discussion among the 15 participants, which included representatives of the Myanmar Journalism Institute, Viet Nam Journalist Association Training Centre, Cambodia Communication Institute, Lao Institute of Mass Media and Communication, and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, among other institutions. During the sessions, participants exchanged ideas and shared insightful views on the challenges they faced, such as the lack of qualified journalism trainers and resources, and the absence of a regional platform for exchange in the region.
By the end of the conference, the media institutes agreed to jointly develop a roadmap outlining the way forward in order to establish a regional professional journalist training network and the concrete steps that had to be taken. This proposal would be submitted to potential donors when seeking funding for the project.
The media sector in the region has seen improvement over the years but much more can be done, and the establishment of this capacity-building network could be key to accelerating the process. By leveraging the strengths and capacities of the media institutes involved, the network will allow for better cross-border coordination among media institutes and a more efficient allocation of resources to boost journalist professionalism, and ultimately contribute to media development in the region.