Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mandalay journalists complain about government informants

Journalists in Mandalay have complained about the widespread practice of government informants attending press conferences and other news events, which they say intimidates both those hosting events and reporters.

The informants pose as journalists to get entry to the events.

“Press conferences are held to let reporters know officially about what is happening. But the informants make enquiries before the press conference or event, before we even have a chance to ask questions,” said Ko Eain Khine Mye, a television reporter in Mandalay.

“It makes it difficult for us to ask questions later on. [The organisers are intimidated] so the answers are normally not as good,” he said.

He said that while government departments had right to know what events were taking place, they should make enquiries more discretely.

The informants are able to attend the press conferences because organisers find it hard to know who is a journalist, another reporter said.

To weed out the informants, press conference organisers should ask for the name and organisation of all attendees, and reporters who questions should have to introduce themselves, he said.

“There are two or three informants at each press conference. … At protests, they even outnumber the journalists. And we also have to deal with the confusion over whether the informants are journalists, or that we are informants,” said a news editor in Mandalay.

Pyithu Hluttaw representative Daw Lae Lae Win was recently quoted by Modern Journal as saying that she would ask during the sixth parliament session, which began on January 9, whether the Ministry of Home Affairs had officially appointed the police informants and if not who would take responsibility for their actions.

Translated by Zar Zar Soe