Myanmar’s journalists will take to Twitter and Facebook in their battle to beat press restrictions and deliver breaking news of Sunday’s by-elections that for many will be the biggest story of their careers.
The vote — the first contested by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and likely to propel her into parliament — is set to pose a host of challenges for news editors from the country’s long-censored media.
All private news publications are weekly, after the previous military rulers nationalised dailies half a century ago and “everybody wants to be a Monday paper this week”, said Thiha Saw, editor of Open News, one of a number of papers to have applied for permission to print a day after the by-elections.
Those newspapers not shifting their print runs will rely on their burgeoning social media pages to provide readers with up to date coverage.
Until last year, prominent coverage of Suu Kyi — known here as “The Lady” — was almost unheard of and people who spoke to reporters were taking a real risk.
Front page pictures of the Nobel prize-winning opposition leader are now commonplace, while coverage of some other previously taboo subjects is also allowed after a new regime loosened censorship as part of wide-ranging reforms that have taken observers by surprise.
When it comes to breaking news online, editors publish what they want.
Thiha Saw, who will be busy compiling early results on Sunday night in the run up to his midnight print deadline, said he had already written the Open News election supplement cover.
“There will be the picture of the Lady — we have got hundreds of them — and the title will be ‘The Lady wins’!” he said with obvious relish.