Media and information literacy on TV: How journalists and activists in Myanmar aim to stop hate speech

How can journalist and activists in Myanmar combat hate speech on social media? By developing a pilot TV program that aims to do just that.

Targeted misinformation, manipulation and harassment are major problems in Myanmar and spread primarily via social networks like Facebook. 

Media | 21.05.2019

The target groups include Muslims, other minority groups, political parties such as the ruling National League for Democracy, and journalists.

But how can TV journalists and activists report on hate speech without spreading it themselves?

But how can innovative TV journalists and activists report on hate speech without spreading discriminatory language themselves? And how can they counter misinformation without boring the 18 to 30 year olds they're aiming to attract?

These were among the most challenging questions facing participants at a ten-day workshop with DW Akademie trainer, Andrea Tönnißen, in Yangon.

Countering hate speech with media and information literacy (MIL)

With a goal to shed light on hate speech and misinformation, the independent TV channel Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) – and the Myanmar ITC Development Organization (MIDO), an NGO, are aiming to introduce MIL on TV.

It's a new approach, so in autumn 2018, DW Akademie initially held a design thinking workshop for TV journalists and activists. Their task was to develop ideas for a new format.

Teams with the best concepts were invited to a second, ten-day workshop in early 2019 to further develop their ideas.

A pilot program and a lot of work

Participants worked on the program design, drafted a schedule for the weekly planning, and came up with a name for the program – "MILKyi", a Burmese play on words meaning "ask questions and find out".

Over ten days, they developed a pilot program that included reports on different types of media and the history of the media in Myanmar, an expert interview, street interviews and a segment on current trends and false information spread on social media.

While the program's not perfect yet, the team and trainer went over it closely so that participants know what they still need to work on.

The promising program is the result of hard work. Thant Zin, a DVB graphic designer, worked extra shifts and the DVB editor in charge, Pyi Sone, could hardly keep his eyes open.

Over ten days a pilot program was developed that included reports, an expert interview and street interviews

MIDO activists May Thu Aung and Su Myat Thandar said they'd enjoyed working on the program and had spent the evenings looking at online courses to learn more about moderating and TV journalism.

Over the coming weeks DVB and MIDO will continue to develop the 15-minute format, with DW Akademie standing by for support. The German Friedrich Naumann Foundation is planning to sponsor the program.

So when the new MILKyi TV program is ready to be aired, viewers will be finding answers to questions they've often wanted to ask.