Covering U.S. Midterm Elections: A Program for Burmese Journalists

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) selected 15 Burmese journalists to come to the United States during the 2014 mid-term elections. The program combined training, meetings and site visits with venues in Washington, D.C., as well as North Carolina and Louisiana. The mingling of training exercises and site visits in the nation’s capital and the opportunity to be on the front lines with their U.S. counterparts in two states gave a complete snapshot of the United States during an election season, much as it has done for other overseas journalists taking part in ICFJ programs centering on election and political coverage.

After the Burmese journalists returned home, their U.S. trainers were available to them for mentoring online as they apply their new skills and prepare to cover Burma’s own election campaign season. For the program’s final phase a U.S. mentor who worked with the Burmese during their U.S. program went to Burma in March 2015. The specialist spent 19 days meeting with the participants in the U.S. program and others in two cities, Rangoon and Mandalay, for advanced training centering on Burma’s general elections set for late 2015.

ICFJ worked with U.S. Embassy Rangoon to recruit and select the 15 Burmese journalists.

Through the combination of experiences, ICFJ expects the participating journalists gained the following:
• An understanding of the U.S. electoral process, the current issues and candidates through seminars, site visits and interactive meetings at ICFJ’s headquarters and with relevant organizations and individuals in our nation’s capital.
• An opportunity to experience the watchdog role of the independent media in safeguarding the freedom and fairness of the vote through attachments with U.S. media hosts in battleground states.
• The opportunity to report on the electoral process and how ordinary Americans take part in it for their own news audiences at home.
• Practical skills that the journalists can use and share with colleagues during Burma’s own campaign and general election.

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