Building peace in the minds of men and women

Myanmar ethnic media groups to support peace-building process through on-line media

From July 2014, with the support of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), Burma News International (BNI) will start developing a peace-oriented online media platform inclusive of website, Facebook, Twitter accounts and blogs.

BMI is an association of 11 independent news organizations operating in regions where conflict and the peace process are ongoing. The new media platform will serve as a site both for sharing and exchanging ethnic-based news coverage about the peace process, and for preserving ethnic languages and cultures by educating the public on the history and culture of the different ethnic communities in Myanmar.

A one-day orientation session and two five-day workshops will be organized with 15 ethnic media groups to establish the online-media management team and to develop editorial policies and procedures for running the platform. Ethnic communities will be encouraged to upload and exchange news and information in print and broadcast formats, and share their views and opinions on the peace process.

Cooperation and networking among media practitioners, bloggers and citizens of different ethnic backgrounds is seen as critical to foster greater cultural understanding, tolerance and building a deep-rooted peace process. National and international media are being encouraged to access the published content and disseminate the stories produced by ethnic media groups. The project is expected to conclude in early 2015.

Strong and independent ethnic media are vital to Myanmar’s transition towards democracy. Many ethnic minority media groups have been abroad since their establishment due to long-standing media restrictions imposed previously. However, with the ongoing media reforms, Myanmar ethnic media groups have been allowed greater freedom to operate inside the country and are gaining more acceptance by the government and mainstream media.

The largest ethnic media community in Myanmar cooperates through Burma News International (BNI). Despite the ethnic and cultural diversity of the new organizations which form the network, they all  share a common vision – to provide a platform for their communities to be part of and engage with the political changes ongoing in Myanmar.