Photos published in the New Light of Myanmar.
Freedom of the press has been improving in Burma recently. Case in point: the Myanmar Times
, a privately-run weekly newspaper, has dared to question the veracity of a photo caption published in the New Light of Myanmar, a government mouthpiece.
A recent article published in the New Light of Myanmar was illustrated by two photographs, one showing a man lying inert on the ground, another showing a badly-damaged motorcycle. Both were presented as being the result of a mine blast. Their caption read: “An innocent people [sic] dies in mine blast by KIA (Kachin) group near Zanan village on Myitkyina-Putao road”. The Burmese army is currently battling armed rebels in Kachin state
, in the country’s far north.
According to the Myanmar Times, the photo of the damaged motorcycle was in fact taken in the aftermath of a plane crash
that took place on December 25 near Heho airport, in central Shan state.
Criticising a newspaper controlled by the state would have been unthinkable even a year ago, when the government still censored all newspapers. (Censorship officially ended in August 2012, though our Burmese Observers believe self-censorship
is still a problem in many newsrooms). However, in a sign that Burma is slowly opening up, Burma’s deputy information minister, Ye Htut – who is also the spokesperson for the president’s office – immediately admitted the error: “I’m really ashamed about this. We will have to try to learn from it,” he said, adding that the mistake may have impacted readers’ trust in state-run media.
Ironically, according to the Irrawaddy magazine
, Burma’s information minister had recently criticised privately-owned media for publishing “false information” about the conflict in Kachin state.