Associated Press sets up Rangoon bureau as Burma opens its doors to international press

Two international news organisations became the first to set up bureaus in Burma this weekend following a relaxing of restrictions on the media.

The country, formally known as Myanmar, has recently relaxed restrictions in the country “amid a wave of democratic reforms”.

AP had been working in its new Rangoon, or Yangon, office at the end of last year while authorities were preparing rules to allow for international news organisations to open there.

Along with Japanese television network NHK, AP opened its office and registered in the country on Sunday.

There will be six multi-platform journalists based in the new AP bureau, including Burmese native Aye Aye Win, who has covered the country for AP since 1989.

She took over the job from her father U Sein Win, who had covered Burma for 20 years and has been arrested under the previous government.

“AP has a proud history of reportage from Myanmar, and the new multimedia bureau marks the beginning of an even more robust commitment,” said AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt.

“We hope to build on our efforts and cover the important changes there for many years to come.”

Senior vice president and executive editor Kathleen Carroll said: “We take great pride in our independent and impartial reporting, and coverage of Myanmar has been a priority for many years.

“A full-time, multimedia bureau staffed by talented local and international journalists will enable AP to provide even more coverage of the historic changes underway.”

In addition to the arrival of international news organisations privately-run dailies hit newsstands in the country for the first time in 50 years yesterday.

AP quote Golden Fresh Land chief editor Khin Maung Lay as saying: "We've been waiting half a century for this day… It shows how much people long for private daily newspapers. This morning I was in tears seeing this."

In the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2013 Burma was rated in 151st place out of 179 countries – rising 18 places in a year.

The country had been as low as 174th in 2010 and had consistently been in the bottom ten countries in the list.

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