Burmese Journalists Get a Close-Up View of U.S. During Midterm Elections

A group of Burmese journalists got a first-hand look at American politics, journalism and life when they observed and reported on the U.S. midterm elections in Louisiana and North Carolina.

The two-week tour was part of an ICFJ program designed to expose the 15 visiting journalists to U.S. coverage of elections ahead of Burma’s 2015 general elections. The program continues in February, when ICFJ will send a trainer to Burma to mentor the journalists in their home newsrooms.

The visit kicked off in Washington, D.C., where the journalists met with experts and political reporters to discuss election polling and with NGOs that focus on election monitoring.

In Raleigh, N.C., they met with the investigative reporting team at the News & Observer and the politics team at WRAL-TV. They also heard former President Bill Clinton speak at a campaign rally for Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, the incumbent.

In Baton Rouge, LA, they talked about political coverage and ethics in journalism with professors at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Communication. On Election Day, they talked to voters and candidates at polling sites around the city, and covered the results that night with teams at The Baton Rouge Advocate and WAFB-TV.

The journalists noted that the opportunity allowed them to delve into political reporting and gave them a better understanding of issues including ethics in journalism and how the U.S. media cover campaigns.

“I learned how newsrooms and television station[s] cover election news,” participant Myat Thandar Maung said in a debrief interview. “I learned so many things from this program.”

The program is sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma.