The Burma Story

Phillip Cunningham at Global Affairs writes:

Compelling images, enhanced by an exotic setting, captured the gist of the Burma story. It is in the nature of the medium to focus on stories with good visuals; indeed TV news at its most engaging is packed with sights and sounds that not only awe but educate.

To the extent the maroon revolution was televised, the work was done mostly by amateurs. Then the screen went dark, as Buddhist monks, the penultimate moral authority in the orthodox Theravada Buddhist culture of Burma, were shot at and beaten in scores, cameras confiscated and thousands of witnesses and participants put under lock and key.
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If it bleeds, it leads. Long the mantra of the tabloid press and TV stations desperate to find an audience, these callous words might as well be the mantra for the global cable and network giants.

CNN and other news giants have done a decent job using other people's footage to catch up with a story that took the world by surprise in part because of their own negligence, bestowing with its obligatory 15 minutes of fame and then a bit more. But few if any card-carrying cable stars and camera crews can get into Burma, effectively putting the story back on the back burner. Photos posted to the Internet strain to fill the gap, and a range of motley voices from refugees and militant minorities to a handful of bloggers inside Burma, have tales to tell, but bloggers are not journalists and verification remains vague.

Even as one of the world's great humanitarian struggles fades from the screen, the 24/7 news show must go on. Celebrity practitioners of TV journalism will fill in the gaps as before, inadvertently focusing on the celebrity of celebrity, whiling away precious air-time, re-directing attention away from the afflicted to the affluent and their own fastidiously groomed selves.

Meanwhile, as Burma, the land once lovingly described by Kipling as full of "sunshine, palm trees and tinkly temple bells" recedes from view, its people are at risk of being felled like trees in a far-off forest, invisible and all but unheard.

MORE: Burma Fades from View

photo source

The Guardian: Special Burma Report

The Guardian: Burma / Myanmar News Sites

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