UNICEF “Young Journalists” hit the streets of Myanmar
Media by children for children
YANGON, Myanmar, 3 November 2005 - UNICEF Myanmar has trained a dozen “young journalists” between 12 and 17 years of age who have been placed with eight of the leading private print publications in Yangon.
On paper, they’re a diverse group of boys and girls from different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Some live in orphanages, some in monasteries and others with family. What binds them is the adversity that all of them have faced, and overcome. They are also bound by their dreams of a better future that awaits them. Some dream of being doctors and teachers, and a few walked through UNICEF’s doors already planning to be reporters one day.
People often told 16-year-old Ye Kyaw Thu that his disability might prevent him from working when he’s older. “But now I realize that I can be a good reporter,” he says, his eyes sparkling with excitement.
Learning the basics
UNICEF trained Ye Kyaw Thu and his peers in basic reporting skills, photography and media ethics. They were then teamed with seasoned reporters, also trained by UNICEF, who provided the young journalists with guidance, and helped foster their development as reporters.
“Throughout many parts of the world, children’s issues only comprise a very small proportion of media coverage,” says UNICEF Representative Carroll Long. “This is one way we hope to give young people in Myanmar an opportunity to share their ideas with wider audiences, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to demonstrate just how much they are capable of.”
UNICEF selected children from disadvantaged backgrounds to serve as young reporters because of the unique insights they have into the challenges Myanmar’s children face. Many say they have found inspiration in this opportunity. “Before the training, I didn’t even know what being a journalist was about,” says 14-year-old Saw Nay Htoo. “Now I have learned lots of valuable things, especially media ethics, which is my favorite lesson of the training. I’ll never forget to seek the truth as a reporter.”
The articles UNICEF’s young journalists will write for private publications will focus on issues that resonate with them and other children. Some are already starting to show their mettle. “They are quite bold,” said one senior journalist who’s mentoring one of the young journalists. “[On their first assignment] they asked question after question. They show great promise, and enjoy what they are doing.”
With UNICEF’s young reporters now hitting the streets of Myanmar, it is hoped that media coverage of children’s issues, and perspectives, may be increasing in the future. “Young people’s ideas are valuable, worthy of respect, and should be heard,” said Carroll Long. “While adults have an important role to play in educating children, we should never forget that children can teach us much about life as well.”
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