FOUNDING STORY: We want to hear about your “Aha!” moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution’s potential to change the world.
“Build reporting strength inside Burma” – this is what dawned on us after we had had success in training refugees living in India and Thailand to become professional journalists since 1998. We implemented a project namely "Strengthening Information Flow and Access between inside Burma and outside Burma" in 2006 by training Burmese to become citizen journalists. Mizzima's trained citizen photographers in Burma were able to send photos and short videos to Mizzima in Delhi and Chiang Mai offices and then to the international media when the Buddhist monks led the protests against the military government in September 2007. From then onwards, Mizzima's work of training citizens journalists has gained momentum with the latest project that was implemented in 2010 to cover the Burmese election with Ustream Live reporting, using trained citizen journalists and Mizzima's reporters as well as using new media platforms such as Facebook. With the increased use of IT and social media platforms in Burma, it is important for Burma to utilize this opportunity for greater awareness of the citizens in Burma.
Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date
For Mizzima News Agency, the situation is both encouraging and challenging. The agency runs two news websites, one in Burmese and one in English, that have built a substantial following with approximately 100,000 unique visitors a month to the Burmese site, and about 40,000 to the English language site. But the success has come quickly, spurred by demonstrations in 2007, a horrific cyclone in 2008, an election in 2010, and the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the end of 2010. This put a great strain on the organization and highlighted the need for more effective programs to empower staff and stringers with the skills to report professionally and relatively safely, providing people in Burma a window on what was happening in their country, and an insight for the many concerned people living in other countries. Mizzima stories are quoted and used by the international media and government and non-governmental organizations around the world. But there is much still to be done to offer the depth of coverage that the crisis in Burma deserves.
What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?
Ironically, the installation of a “democratically-elected government” means this is not the time to take attention off Burma. Predicting what will happen over the next few years is impossible. Mizzima hopes it can step up and improve its efforts to train reporters, both inside and outside Burma, with the aim to improve and expand the work it is doing to inform the Burmese people and the outside world what is really happening in the country. With this project, Mizzima hopes to produce leaders and managers in Burma, who establish and lead civil society organizations that focus on media development issues.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Mizzima takes care to chart and quantify its success. One method it will use is to monitor the number and quality of stories
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Monitor and encourage reports from Burma-based trainees, vs reports from reporters outside in India and Thailand