Citizen Journalism

During the pro democracy Saffron Revolution in 2007, citizen journalism became increasingly important in Burma. As the junta cracked down on the protests and the media, it was up to citizen journalists to break the news to the world. Ellana Lee, the managing editor of CNN Asia Pacific states, “Even in countries like Myanmar, the spread of the Internet and mobile phones has meant that footage will always continue to get through and the story will be told, one way or another.”

Many of the blogs and news websites that reported on the crack down were located outside of Myanmar due to Myanmar’s severe censorship over the internet. It was up to citizen journalists to take photos or videos of the protests and then smuggle those out of the country to these remote locations.

An example of this practice was reported by the WSJ. It discussed Mizzima News, a publication run by exiles in New Delhi. The editor in chief, Soe Myint,  received reports, images, and videos from students, activists, and ordinary citizens depicting the violent events taking place within the country. These reports provided by citizen journalists offer a stark contrast to the sanitized version of the events presented by the state-run media. CNN also used this practice through its i-Report citizen journalism system; it aired clips from tourists and residents. CNN’s system was actually mentioned in the documentary Burma VJ. A film about independent dissident video journalists who risked torture and life imprisonment to expose the repressive Junta regime and document the 2007 Saffron Revolution. A trailer is below:

I found it interesting that while trying to find the specific blogs by citizen journalists I noticed that a lot of them have been deactivated or I was immediately redirected to a different webpage that was not the blog. For example Ko Htike is noted as being a very active citizen journalist during the revolution. However when I tried to go to his at I came to a page that was clearly Burmese writing for a few seconds, but then I was automatically redirected.

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