State Media Apologizes for Misusing Photo

The photograph on the right shows a motorcycle destroyed by a plane crash in Shan State, with a caption claiming its depicts the aftermath of a landmine blast in Kachin State. (Photo: New Light of Myanmar)

Burma’s state media issued an apology on Thursday after it was revealed that state-run newspapers had used a photograph showing the aftermath of a plane crash with a report on an alleged landmine blast blamed on the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

The mislabeled photograph appeared in the Jan. 28 issue of The New Light of Myanmar and its Burmese-language version Myanmar Ahlin, and was first pointed out on the website of The Myanmar Times, a privately owned weekly journal, on Wednesday.

The News and Periodical Enterprise, which operates under the Ministry of Information, released a statement on Thursday apologizing for the error and saying that it had warned the reporter not to repeat the mistake.

Deputy Information Minister Ye Htut, who is also the spokesperson for the President’s Office, also expressed “shame” at the incident, but told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that the facts in the story were correct, even if the photo did not match the report.

“I am really ashamed about this. We will have to try to learn from it,” he said, adding that the mistake  had hurt readers’ confidence in state-run media.

The photograph, which actually showed the wreckage of a motorcycle destroyed in a plane crash near the Heho Airport in Shan State on Dec. 25, carries a caption that reads: “An innocent people [sic] dies in mine blast by KIA (Kachin) group near Zanan village on Myitkyina-Putao Road.”

The one-paragraph article and caption are both credited to MNA, the Myanmar News Agency, which usually distributes speeches by government officials and reports on ministerial and parliamentary activities, as well as war-related news.

A source who works for the MNA told The Irrawaddy that its reporters and editors are closely supervised by senior officials.

“Almost all of the news stories have to be passed to the deputy minister, who takes responsibility for monitoring of the newspapers,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Ironically, the report with the erroneously labeled photograph appeared on the same day that state-run media published a statement by the Ministry of Defense accusing privately owned media and international organizations of fabricating news about the Kachin conflict.

“Although the official media stated the atrocities of KIA … those organizations turned a blind eye to the actual events and issued fabricated news. Such biased news could cause misunderstanding in the public and international community,” the statement said.

7 Responses to State Media Apologizes for Misusing Photo

  1. Myanmar Ahlin, in fact, covering the news with full of lies.

  2. This is not a new thing. They always tries to lie. If you don’t have enough evidence, they will say that it is true.

  3. The quasi-civilian junta never tell the truth anyway. They always lied before, they are lying now and they will keep lying in the future. Thein Sein is a liar, Ye Htut is a liar and Min Aung Hlaing ia a liar. Because they were born to lie by their daddy, Than Shwe. No matter what they say, no one will believe them.

  4. The state media tried it on but got caught out like the Rohingya dead photos which turned out to be Tibetans. It’s one thing Islamists doing it but quite another a state organ resorting to such desperate measures. They must think the whole world is stupid.

  5. Burmese state media is full of liars, they are used to create more division and hatred amongst different communities in Burma. They should tell the truth, which is Burmese junta is corrupt, they kill, rape our people. They destroyed Burmas economy and use the money from natural resources to fill up their swiss bank accounts. Now government succeeded in turning the Burmese people in to racists. Burma can’t win against all ethnic groups, China, Bangladesh, Thailand if they fight.

  6. USDP stands for “United Suckers and Dummy People”. When stupid people lie, they get caught like this. They must know that there are countless people who are smarter than all the generals combined. USDP tried to cheat but unfortunately it got caught immediately. They lied that they did not use helicopter gunships in assaulting the Kachins. They lied that they did not use fighter jets in assaulting the Kachins. They lied that the war would stop on Saturday what time so and so. Whatever they say, we may not need to listen or take seriously. Why should we listen what liars say?

  7. The Ministry of information is responsible.
    Current news and retrievals from archive are two entirely different things.
    Who ordered or approved the misuse and abuse to purposely mislead the public?
    Responsibility here means immediate resignation for intent and deed to mislead the public, misusing the authority entrusted to the ministry.

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