Theme: Covering Burma
The Saffron Revolution in Burma in September 2007 and the following political and humanitarian crisis in Burma underscored two things at once. One, it showed how little the world—and even Southeast Asians—knows and understands about Burma. And second, it also demonstrated the power and vitality of information; how the absence of access and freedom aggravates problems, and how the inevitability of the flow of information (even trickles of it) can mitigate against even the worst of crises.
However, Burma also showed the other end of that spectrum when Cyclone Nargis struck the country on 2 May 2008, killing scores of thousands of Burmese and leaving one million homeless in the wake of its destructive trail. This time, the dire lack of information that has characterised the four-decade-plus military rule in the country revealed its devastating impact—there was no warning of the cyclone, nor notice of evacuation, leading to the death of thousands caught in the cyclone's path and the tidal wave that followed. In the aftermath of the natural disaster, the continued restriction on information and reporting of the damage and needs of survivors killed thousands more, turning it into a human-made catastrophe.
The 2008 Journalism Fellowship is aimed at contributing to greater interest and deeper understanding of Burmese issues among the region’s press.