The East-West Center, an education and research institution based in the United States, announced on February 21 that it would be expanding its media exchange programs into Myanmar during the coming year.
The East-West Center began its life as a bill proposed by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson to establish “a meeting place for the intellectuals of the East and the West”, according to a New York Times article from 1959. While originally focusing more on academic research, over the course of its nearly 50-year history the EWC has expanded into a variety of education and media-related fields.
The most immediate program will be a 21-day visit from the Center’s 2013 Jefferson Fellows. The EWC’s longest running program, the Jefferson Fellowship program seeks to “enhance public understanding through the news media of cultures, issues and trends in the Asia Pacific region”. Since 1967, the fellowship has sponsored trips for journalists across Asia.
The group of American journalists will not only tour the nation, but assist in training local reporters: “A first for the program.”
“The 2013 Jefferson Fellowships program will focus on how much change and continuity may be expected from these new national leaders and others in business, government, and civil society.”
Additionally, plans are underway for the Yangon to be the host of next year’s International Media conference. Held once every two years in various Asian capitals by the EWC, the International Media Conference is a seminar in which journalists and other media experts converge to “discuss important news and media issues in Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the United States”.
Like the visit from the Jefferson fellows, the seminar will highlight capacity building in Myanmar’s media.
Speaking during a phone interview with The Myanmar Times, Yangon chapter president U Thein Lwin reported that most of his work under the EWC banner revolves around organising workshops and scholarships for journalism students of Yangon.
While he does not know any of the specifics of the upcoming visit, he applauded Myanmar media’s continued engagement with the outside world.