Relaunching the News in Burma
Starting April 1, Burma will allow daily newspapers for the first time since its 1962 military coup.
How does a startup publication prepare for the date? Practice. As in, report the day’s news, write, edit, lay it out, print it out and then review it internally. Try to create a workflow that gets you on a daily schedule. And, yeah, figure out what un-censored journalism actually looks like.
Via the Atlantic:
For the last three months, the dailies have been written, edited and printed on photocopiers as practice for the day when that ban will be lifted. After five decades of military rule and strict media controls, that long-awaited day is fast approaching, and journalists around the country are up against the most exciting deadline they have ever faced: April 1, the first day in decades when daily newspapers can be sold freely. To prepare, media companies are now scrambling to figure out everything from how to write news on a daily basis to how much to charge for a daily issue.
Closed to the world since a military coup in 1962, Burma appears to have missed the news that the print media is dying. The democratically elected, although still military-dominated, government that came to power in 2010 has decided that media will be among the first areas of reform, driving massive hiring and investment in the industry. The government ended media censorship in August and soon followed by announcing that daily newspapers would be allowed in April.
The policy change will end the short-lived heyday of private weekly newspapers, commonly called journals, the most popular of which have only launched since 2000. Regulators under the military government had allowed weeklies, as they afforded censors ample time to pore over the papers for signs of dissension. A thriving group of more than 200 private weeklies arose during the last decade as the reading public sought an alternative to government-run dailies that read more like staid corporate newsletters than newspapers.
Personal Aside: This topic fascinates me. In 2003-2004, I went to Saudi Arabia with five other international journalists to run this exact same exercise. We worked with a local media organization to rebrand and relaunch its English-language newspaper.
At the time, the Saudi government was allowing greater press freedoms and our goal was to eliminate old habits (no, rewriting a press release isn’t reporting the news), instill new ones (when someone tells you the sky is purple, look up, verify, and come back with a follow-up about why they might think so) and train a new generation of Saudis on all things journalism. — Michael
Image: The Voice Weekly, by Jake Spring via the Atlantic, It’s Tough to Start a Newspaper After 50 Years of State Censorship.