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April 8th, 2009

mekwbPHNOM PENH – A documentary on Myanmar citizens with Chinese ethnicity who cross the border from Yunnan daily to study in a Chinese school. A photo essay comparing the plight of working elephants in Thailand and neighbouring Laos. A feature taking a look at perceptions of China’s dam-building activities in the Lancang River, as the upstream Mekong River is called.

These are a but a sample of the media work produced by 31 journalist-fellows in the 2008-09 cycle of the Imaging Our Mekong programme — that were debated, argued over and turned inside out at a Mar. 25-28 workshop that brought them together in order to review and critique one another’s submissions.

All the articles, documentaries and photo essays discussed at the workshop were produced by the journalists from the Mekong countries under the Imaging Our Mekong media fellowships, which have been held annually since 2002. The programme, under which journalists apply for slots in an open application process, is implemented jointly by IPS Asia-Pacific and Probe Media Foundation Inc.

mek1wbDiscussions are facilitated by a core, unique strength of the programme’s workshops –simultaneous translations in the six languages of the Mekong countries (Burma, China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand). There were 11 translators at the March workshop.

Likewise, the Cambodia peer review workshop had a set of reactor – made of media professionals and experts on the Mekong region and issues – who were invited to, along with the fellows themselves, give their feedback to the fellows’work. Our reactors this time were: Pipope Panitchpakdi, a Thai filmmaker; Kyaw Zwa Moe of the ‘Irrawaddy’ publishing group; Dr Rosalia Sciortino of Mahidol University, Nguyen Ngoc Tran, a Vietnamese professor on journalism and former editor with the Saigon Times Group; Yunnan-based filmmaker and professor Tan Leshui; journalism trainer Luz Rimban of the Konrad Adenauer Center for Journalism in the Philippines and Tive Sarayeth of the Women’s mek3wbMedia Circle, Cambodia.

A parallel review discussion was held between the photojournalist-fellows and Dr Shahidul Alam, managing director of Drik Picture Library in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Also attending the workshop were IPS Asia-Pacific correspondent Marwaan Macan-Markar and Beijing-based correspondent Antoaneta Bezlova.

A photo exhibit mek2wbfeaturing the work of Mekong journalists was held on Mekong Night, which has become a tradition of the fellowship and hosted by IPS Asia-Pacific Director Johanna Son and Probe Foundation Executive Director Yasmin Mapua-Tang. The sixth book in the Imaging Our Mekong series, entitled ‘Changing Borders: Reportage from Our Mekong’, along with the sixth DVD set in the programme was also launched that night.

The workshop was opened by Ashvin Dayal, managing director of the Asia Office of the Rockefeller Foundation.

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