Control Over Coverage

Journalists are not embedded in Myanmar because the conflict taking place is a civil war and the United States is not directly involved. However, because the state exerted strict control over the media journalists would try to gain access by other means. Many would enter the country with a tourist visa and hope that the junta would not catch them as journalists. According to WSJ, journalists would not use their byline in reports about Myanmar and would switch hotels and cars in order to avoid detection.

A journalist who experienced this first hand was CNN’s Dan Rivers. The Guardian explains the situation he was in while in Burma to report on Cyclone Nargis. Although there was a humanitarian crisis taking place the government was still expending a great amount of resources and money to control the media. After Rivers posted an article describing the blocking of aid and the extent of the crisis, the junta regime initiated a search for him in order to stop him from reporting. He explains the measures he had to take to ensure that he would not be caught. These included hiding in a restaurant while colleagues spoke to government workers, hiding in the trunk of a car, and intense questioning by police after their ditched car was found in a jungle. Eventually, Rivers decided to leave Burma because he did not want to endanger his fellow workers, especially the locals because they faced possible imprisonment and abuse if their involvement was discovered. Although, Rivers left Burma on his own accord this time around he was expelled from the country in March 2010.

He describes his experience in the video below:

He explicitly talks about the tight control the media exerts saying, “On the few occasions we are allowed in we are not given much time, on this trip our visa was only four days.” There are numerous other accounts of journalists who have been deported from Burma by the junta regime. The BBC‘s Andrew Harding arrived in Yangon hours after the cyclone hit and was deported from the country before he had the chance to leave the airport. The CPJ reported that a freelance South Korean journalist was deported and her discs containing photos of the Cyclone Nargis devastation were confiscated. Andrew Marshall of TIME and Ben Gurr of The Times of London were also deported. The CPJ released a statement saying it is, “concerned that the government’s ongoing deportation of foreign journalists and harassment of local journalists is an attempt to cover up the true extent of the cyclone’s devastation and the government’s inadequate response.”

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