The Beginning of Talk2DVB
“Help us please. High school teachers are illegally charging too much money for our children’s entry to school.”
“Please announce that a police officer from our area is taking bribes from an illegal karaoke shop.”
“Could you please let Mr. President know about our town, which regularly has no electricity?”
- Though the video journalists of Democratic Voice of Burma provide daily news stories for Burma’s media, what no one gets to see is what happens behind the camera, off screen. I ask them why they do what they do and what they see as they expose a country that has been under the shadow of dictatorships for decades.
- Than Win Htut joined Democratic Voice of Burma since 2005 as a senior producer and began working as a sub-editor in tv news last year. After leaving Burma, Than lived on the Thai-Burma border and wrote for many exiled media outlets including Khit Pyaing, Amyin Thit, The Irrawaddy Magazine, and Mizzima News. He produces his own weekly science and technology TV show called “Khit Hlaine,” working with around 40 Burmese reporters living in Thailand and 40 living in Burma. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
Ah, there are too many problems around Burma if you pay attention.
These are some samples of hundreds of complaints we receive every day on the television program talk2dvb. First let me tell you how this all started.
Just before the 2010 election in Burma I proposed the idea to make a segment on our TV program where our audience could talk about their problems directly. My chief editor approved the idea and I set up a g-mail account named talk2dvb. The name was supposed to reference people talking to DVB about their problems, but in reality the show allows participants to talk to everyone in Burma.
Second, we created a commercial encouraging our audience to add firstname.lastname@example.org to their contact list. The spot said “Everybody can come and talk about whatever the public should know.” I expected that the people on talk2dvb’s contact list could also provide some photos or video clips from places around the country our reporters can’t reach. I was wrong.
Maybe it was the lack of technological know-how about photos and video, and the slow internet connections. Who knows? But the truth is, people didn’t send many photos or videos. However, in a few months several hundred audience members had added our account to their contact lists. Then several thousand joined. Of course, many of them used pseudonyms to hide their identities and we still don’t know if we’re talking to a man or a woman on google chat.
At the beginning I was really busy talking to all of these people directly, but I was happy to listen to their problems and points of view, asking, “Where are you from?” ; “What number can I call you at?” ; “What’s happening in your area?” ; “Do you have any photos to illustrate your claim?” etc.
Later, after reaching more than 5000 people, it became more than I could control and I had to enlist other colleagues to help me talk and listen to our viewers. On talk2dvb a male and a female anchor read the messages. Initially the segment was for about 20 minutes, once a week; later it was increased to 3 times a week.
The government’s staff was monitoring talk2dvb, but the local authorities took action on many of the complaints. The number of contacts on talk2dvb’s list has now reached almost 20 thousand. Many of them come and say, “Thank you DVB.”
Soon I will talk about the troubles, influence, and potential of an interactive media space like talk2dvb. À bientôt.