Media and Conflict in Myanmar: Opportunities For Media to Advance Peace

Report
from US Institute of Peace
Published on 08 Jan 2014 View Original

Summary

  • Myanmar’s democratic reform, economic development, and peacemaking progress have been rapid since 2010, though significant hurdles threaten to derail the advances.

  • This study is based on the Intended Outcomes Needs Assessment (IONA) methodology and assesses the changing relationships between media and conflict in Myanmar.

  • Findings reveal a deeply rooted, intractable, and dynamic conflict landscape. Analysis focuses on three key conflicts: citizen-state, ethnic, and intercommunal.

  • The developing media environment has been a central feature of the transition. The range of outlets for information sharing and the diversity and reach of content are expanding rapidly.

  • Radio has a significant influence in ethnic and conflict-affected areas. Television does as well, especially in urban areas.

  • New media freedoms are supporting peaceful transition but are also causing harm.

  • Certain initiatives are needed to monitor and counter hate speech online and leverage social media and online mechanisms to advance social norms that support peaceful coexistence and tolerance.

  • A Peace Technology Innovation Workshop to shape information and communications technology (ICT) initiatives that address issues such as land-grabbing, rumor, and corruption would be productive.

  • Training for journalists, particularly in conflict-sensitive reporting, is a priority.

  • Public relations for government officials and ethnic nationality leaders is recommended to increase awareness and foster accountability between citizens and state and to raise awareness on ethnic identity and peacemaking issues.

  • Across all formats, training for ethnic nationality and Bamar journalists is encouraged to tackle ethnic identity and language issues in reporting.

  • Additionally, the regulatory environment must be further reformed to support a progressive press law, new legislation for access to information and telecommunications, and education among local stakeholders on how to implement such laws.

  • These initiatives, among others recommended by the study, would support, not replace, nonmedia statebuilding efforts.