The Politics of Media in Myanmar Now - Visitor Lecture by Swe Win

Image: Myanmar journalist in the marketplace

Event details

Public Lecture

Date & time

Wednesday 04 March 2020


Hedley Bull Lecture Theatre 1
Hedley Bull Building


Swe Win


Dr Nick Cheesman

Before Myanmar’s political transition away from military dictatorship a decade ago, the press was under state control. Pre-publication censorship was the norm. With the closure of the press scrutiny board and abundant opportunities for media enterprises, in the 2010s news serials mushroomed. The election victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party in 2015 encouraged journalists to become more fearless in their reporting, but to the surprise of some, reprisals and threats against journalists have not only persisted but arguably have increased during the NLD’s time in office. Against a backdrop of persistent civil war, an emboldened and increasingly confident military, and widespread anti-Muslim and acutely anti-Rohingya sentiment, social media activists today attack outspoken journalists as traitors to the nation, while soldiers and nationalist monks bring criminal cases against others who refuse to toe their line.

What are the implications for freedom of expression in Myanmar generally, and press freedom in particular, of the military’s continued presence in political, social and economic life, and its sway over the country’s judiciary and law enforcement authorities especially? In this talk Swe Win will address this and related questions by reflecting on the specific challenges and experiences that his own news outlet Myanmar Now faces. He will also share his views on the growing influence of China’s government and Chinese companies on media in Myanmar, and address current social and political trends, including the role of Buddhist nationalism in the country’s politics, and their effects on journalism.

About the speaker

Swe Win is Editor-in-Chief of Myanmar Now, an online outlet that tackles hard topics rarely reported on in other media. He won the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in recognition of his “undaunted commitment to practice independent, ethical, and socially engaged journalism in Myanmar; his incorruptible sense of justice and unflinching pursuit of the truth in crucial but under-reported issues; and his resolute insistence that it is in the quality and force of media’s truth-telling that we can convincingly protect human rights in the world”. Swe Win previously worked as a journalist in Thailand during the period of Myanmar’s military dictatorship. He has a Masters of Journalism from Hong Kong University.

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