- By May Oo Moe
With the mention of “State owned newspaper,” I’m sure everyone conjures up the image of the fine prints of the Global New Light of Myanmar, the Myanmar ALinn and the Kyemon (The Mirror). It is a media platform set up by the publicly elected government which aims to report the public on their progress. The newspapers set out to follow The Ministry of Information’s objective to “inform the public about government policy plans and implementation and support improvements to knowledge and education of the public.”
The administration that was chosen through strong voter support has completed its third year in office. The newspapers, during this time, have continued without fail to report to the public the laws and opinions of the government, the workings of the parliament, law updates and other general knowledge information, entertainment accurately and truthfully.
In Myanmar’s transition to become a democratic federal republic, the government owned newspaper serves as an important instrument in supplementing the public’s knowledge pool so they are informed of all aspect of news.
Newspapers are the eyes and ears of the public. As a government newspaper that serves the public, Myanmar’s state-owned newspaper continually tries to contribute to the nation’s human resource development and the country’s benefit by providing the news with the public wishes to hear, the progress of the government chosen by the people and other general knowledge and entertainment.
A Bridge That Connects
All newspaper has their own house styles and identities. The state newspaper’s main purpose is to be a public leaning media platform. The state-owned newspapers aim to fulfill the State and the publicly elected government’s objectives. Hence, the newspaper and journal businesses by the Ministry of Information serves as a bridge between the State and its people.
Not only do the newspapers report the progress of the government, it also informs the government about the needs of the public. These public opinions and requests even have a regular separate section in the newspaper as a special. Ever since the publicly elected government, the newspapers have been changing into its new form which is more public-oriented and caters to the locals.
A Variety of Sections for Knowledge Sharing
The Newspapers have a variety of sections the readers can choose from media coverages and submissions across the whole country: the New Generation section showcasing the works for students and youth from across the country, Cartoon Section to help young kids develop their reading and vocabulary, a Public Opinion section for a platform for the public to voice their suggestions, and a Transparency Section for the public to express their needs along with politics, law, business, entertainment and sports.
Additionally, the newspapers also provide different laws, draft of the laws/notifications from the various departments of the government, job postings and everyday market prices along with weather forecasts, seasonal advice for living and things public need to know.
Local Reader’s Voices
The newspapers also have special editions and sections for the readers from different areas. There is the Today Yangon section for the Yangon residents which covers the social events, things to look out for and development news for the city. There is also a weekly Golden Rhakhine Land Page for the locals in Rhakhine Region. There are also newspaper in the Mon language, Sakaw Kayin Language, Po Kayin language, PaO Language to help preserve the culture and traditions of the local language. There is also the Mandalay pages to infrom readers about Mandalay and the rest of Upper Myanmar, adding supplementary pages weekly.
The News and Periodicals Enterprise (NPE) recently launched the Myanmar Digital News online newspaper starting 2018. Myanmar Digital News serves as a news portal to bring the public real-time news, the government’s initiatives and other public information. This serves as a multimedia platform for political, business, social, educational and ethnic news for the public. Starting Jan 1, 2019, Myanmar Digital News’s has been upgrading its digital newspaper and news portal capabilities to meet the international standards and provide its readers an enhanced experience.
Income tax and other taxes
The NPE is included in the state-owned businesses and does not have profit orientation. It is currently operating as a large-scale business operation via it’s Other Account (OA) to fund the salary and retirement payment of up to 900 employees, along with printing cost, operating costs and other miscellaneous expenses.
The newspaper also does not enjoy special tax disconnts and exemptions when buying its raw materials to produce the newspaper. Yet the newspaper never fails to deliver and fulfill its responsibilities to the public. The business pays 25% of its profit for income tax and 20% for the national government without fail every year.
The national newspapers have been operating on the national budget and have not once lost money and have always brought profit for the government. The ad revenue generated from the papers have brought the cost of newspapers down for the general public and hence, made it more convenient and accessible for the public to buy and read.
In addition to the ad and sales revenues from the newspaper, there is also revenue generated from selling waste and recycles from the byproducts of printing such as the paper rolls, ink cartridges and other recyclable items. Unfortunately, even with tremendous care to keep the prices low from the part of the newspaper, rising dollar prices and the cost of paper skyrocketing globally has ultimately led to the increase of production costs and consequently, a rise in price of newspaper starting April 1, 2019.
As the NPE is owned by the government, it is crucial that the funds be managed responsibility on the different levels of the government. There are also audits by the Ministry’s audit team to monitor the balance sheets of the newspapers monthly, yearly budget reviews by the Union Auditor General’s Office for the respective newspapers whom also goes under the various regional/state’s audit.
The employer of national newspapers is the State, the government and public. The Myanma Alinn, the Kyemon, the Global New Light of Myanmar (Joint Venture with Global Direct Link), Myanmar Digital News all abide by the code of conduct, ethics of not only the national but also the international standards and code of ethics and rules to provide the true and correct news for the benefit of the country.
The newspapers are also approaching news in a way that is easily interpreted and understandable by the general republic and is beneficial to the public as a whole with true and correct news of events.
Upgrading to Modern Technology
From the old fashioned printing machine that was bought in 2006 that can print 16 pages, the newspapers have upgraded to a Goss Community 4 Hi Tower 4 Unit Web Offset (with splicer) that can print up at 32 pages at one time on May 8, 2018 to provide the most updated news to the community in the fastest way possible.
When buying raw materials for the printing machines or general office equipment, there is the Local and Foreign Procurement Committee formed by the Ministry to abide by President’s Office Notification 1/2017 so as to free it from corruption. The meetings on material purchases are recorded on video and are on CCTV as well.
Right to Information, Free Distribution
For the newspaper to reach nationwide, there are satellite offices, distribution centers and vetted distributors who continue to work towards delivering the papers in the fastest and smoothest way possible. For instance, for news, information and general knowledge to reach Rhakhine, 2000 Myanmar Alinn newspapers and 250 of Global New Light of Myanmar were distributed free of charge.
Choice for the Readers
The success and failure of a newspaper is directly related to public support. Only the media that people trust and support will continue to thrive. If one compares the Myanma Alinn and the Kyemon, there is a separate fanbase for each. Hence, the two newspapers will continue to be independent of each other. If public support starts to wane and the newspapers start to show a net loss, the respective authorities will review the paper’s performance and the paper will struggle to stay in operation. In such times, the national businesses will have to choose a path that is most appropriate for their survival.
Even if the main objective for the national newspapers isn’t profit, the newspapers continue to operate as an government owned and operated entities that help bridge the gap between the government and public. The papers avoid harmful news, fake news and other events that damage the public and maintain the ethics and standards of the journalism world as its responsibility. Lastly, the newspapers provide another perspective for the public to supplement the many news that the public consume to the best of their abilities.
(Translated by Myat Thu)