Desperate times for independent media as COVID-19 savages a fragile industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous challenges for news media organisations, ranging from lost advertising revenue as businesses close or suspend services, to trying to arrange interviews or gather information while complying with social distancing and travel restrictions.

The pandemic has only exacerbated the financial pressures that the global news media industry has been under for more than a decade as a result of readers moving online.

The situation is no different in Myanmar, where the slump in advertising accelerated by the pandemic has had a serious effect on most news outlets. Some have had to reduce staff or slash salaries and several have closed down or are on the brink.

There is deep concern in the sector and among those who value independent media that Myanmar’s media organisations will be so crippled by COVID-19 that they will struggle to fulfil their “fourth estate” role as a pillar of democracy, along with the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.

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