The Irrawaddy’s mission is to cover the news in Burma/Myanmar and Southeast Asia accurately and impartially.
In this world full of crisis and conflict, the media plays a crucial role in highlighting controversies and scandals and exposing the truth of events occurring in conflict zones. Critical and independent media cannot sit idly and report news on crisis with detachment. We believe media is part of the solution and not part of the problem. Thus, we are not slaves to neutrality – our duty is to search for the truth and inform our readers.
We have a strong belief in democracy, and believe that without free media a democratic society is incomplete. It is our duty to protect and preserve press freedom and develop independent media free from bias and influences.
In our editorial pages, we will never shy away from voicing criticism and opening up healthy debate for the public – we adhere to our editorial principles and will not compromise.
The Irrawaddy is a leading source of reliable news, information, and analysis on Burma/Myanmar and the Southeast Asian region. From its inception, The Irrawaddy has been an independent news media group, unaffiliated with any political party, organization or government. The Irrawaddy is neither an advocacy group nor an NGO campaigning for particular causes. We believe that media must be free and independent and we strive to preserve press freedom.
- To report accurate news and to provide editorial, analyses of events in Burma/Myanmar and related issues in Southeast Asian countries.
- To raise international awareness of political and socio-economic developments in the region, particularly Burma/Myanmar through The Irrawaddy print and online media products to have policy impact.
- To give journalists from Burma/Myanmar an opportunity to develop skills that will be necessary for restoring a free, independent and professional press in the country.
- To provide an alternative to both mainstream media outlets and the government controlled press in Burma/Myanmar and other Asian nations.
- To build up a strong network of journalistic contacts in Burma/Myanmar.
- To operate English and Burmese-language web sites, targeting international and domestic audiences including policy makers, UN, NGOs, governments, embassies and readers around the world and in Burma/Myanmar.
- To return to Burma/Myanmar once democracy has been restored, to establish an independent media agency publishing in English and Burmese language; using the experience and expertise gained while in exile.
The Irrawaddy was founded in 1993 by a group of Burmese journalists living in exile in Thailand. It originated from the activities of a group of young Burmese activists who were forced to flee the persecution of the military regime in Burma/Myanmar, over the 1988 democracy uprisings. They fled into exile in Thailand where they worked passionately to alert the international community about the atrocities occurring in their homeland.
1992: Irrawaddy Director Aung Zaw founded the Burma Information Group (BIG) in Bangkok, Thailand, to document the human rights violations in Burma, including the unlawful detention of members of the democratic opposition, other dissidents and ethnic groups. The BIG released several reports on human rights inside Burma: to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch Asia and other agencies, as well as Bangkok-based newspapers such as The Nation and The Bangkok Post.
1993: Aung Zaw launched The Irrawaddy news magazine in Bangkok, covering Burma affairs. It was the first independent news publication unaffiliated with Burmese political dissident groups in exile and in Burma. The magazine became a monthly publication, promoting press freedom and independent media, and gained an international reputation for balanced, informative and in-depth reporting. The Magazine was banned by the regime in Burma and anyone found with a copy could be arrested and imprisoned.
1999: The Irrawaddy magazine expanded its coverage to include other countries in Southeast Asia undergoing transitions to democratic forms of government, with a core focus on Burma.
2000: The Irrawaddy online websites were launched including the English language (2000) and Burmese language (2001) news sites. The Irrawaddy websites were banned by the military regime in Burma/Myanmar and blocked by state censors for 12 years – but we continued to publish in exile and become the most popular Burmese online news-site worldwide. Readers in Burma/Myanmar accessed the Irrawaddy via proxy servers whenever they could beat the state censorship wall.
2010: The Burmese blog site was launched to monitor the controversial Myanmar elections.
2011: Online censorship was lifted and the Irrawaddy websites were legally available to internet users in Burma/Myanmar for the first time ever.
2012: The Irrawaddy was able to expand our coverage of Burma/Myanmar issues as press censorship was eased and our reporters were able to work more freely inside the country. The Irrawaddy Magazine was distributed legally in Burma/Myanmar for the first time ever in 2013 and in 2014 the Irrawaddy Burmese weekly journal was launched reaching readers across the country.
The Irrawaddy reaches millions of people worldwide in USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan, Thailand, China and East Asian nations. Our subscribers include NGOs, UN agencies, government and donor agencies, policy-makers, universities and academics, embassies, activists, media organizations, journalists and individuals.
In Burma/Myanmar the Irrawaddy has a fast-growing audience, reaching readers across the country via our print and online products. Irrawaddy readers in Burma/Myanmar include politicians, business community, embassies and international organizations, prominent opposition figures, journalists, political activists, civil society and NGOs, military and government officials, and the general public.
The Irrawaddy has a professional, passionate and skilled team of reporters who provide consistent, high quality news stories on Burma/Myanmar.
Over 20 years the Irrawaddy has built up a team of Burmese and ethnic nationality reporters from Burma/Myanmar and areas bordering Thailand. Our staff team is diverse and includes Burmese staff and those from ethnic background (such as Karen, Mon, Kachin and Shan), plus expatriate staff members who have understanding and in-depth knowledge of Burma/Myanmar and Southeast Asian affairs.
Since the Irrawaddy’s inception, one of our main objectives has been to recruit and train journalists from Burma/Myanmar. Since 2002 we have managed an Internship and Exchange program which provides short-term placements for journalists, media practitioners, citizen reporters and others from Burma/Myanmar to work with The Irrawaddy and develop independent media skills.
The Irrawaddy is a non-profit media organization that relies on funding and grants from private foundations, NGOs, individuals and governments around the world. The support we receive from our donors is extremely valuable and crucial to our mission.
Over the past two decades The Irrawaddy has been supported by donors from the following countries: Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the significant commitment from international donors who have continued to support the development of press freedom and democratic change in Burma/Myanmar over so many years.
The Irrawaddy is not yet a commercially viable enterprise. We have plans to earn income from online advertising and commercial publications in Burma/Myanmar but we rely on donor funds to support the majority of our non-profit work. The Irrawaddy maintains professional, transparent relations of mutual respect with our donors according to the Irrawaddy Fundraising Policy. We undertake legally binding funding contracts with our donor partners and provide regular financial and activity reports. The Irrawaddy uses external auditors to ensure that our book-keeping and accounting systems are transparent and we provide an annual audited financial report to all of our donor agencies.
The Irrawaddy Business Plan aims to increase our income generation via advertising, subscriptions and media sales. We are keen to attract dynamic and progressive investors and partners, who value independent media, have a high level of corporate responsibility, and can align with our main goal to promote widespread access to news and information on Burma/Myanmar.
The Irrawaddy appreciates donors, sponsors and partners who have no intention of interfering in the editorial policies of our publications and are willing to provide financial assistance without strings attached or conditions regarding editorial matters. We have developed a clear policy on editorial independence to safeguard and nurture our independence within the highly politicized environment related to democratic change in Burma/Myanmar.
The Irrawaddy highly appreciates donors who understand the nature of our operations. We are delighted to work with partners who recognize the progress made by our publications and who encourage professionalism and a high standard of journalism.
The Irrawaddy is generously supported by the following donors who provide funding for our independent media projects:
*Donor partners are not responsible for and do not influence or endorse any of the content and opinions in any media product published by The Irrawaddy.