Myanmar media use Twitter, Facebook to report vote

Myanmar's journalists will take to Twitter and Facebook in their battle to beat press restrictions and deliver breaking news of tomorrow'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.

"Our paper will be (published) after the election, so we will post on Facebook and our Twitter account, so we will update all the news every hour after the polling stations open," said Nyein Nyein Naing, executive editor of 7Day News, one of the country's biggest weeklies with an estimated readership of 1.5 million.

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.

Weeklies are still subject to pre-publication scrutiny that is described by media rights organisations as among the world's most draconian, but Nyein Nyein Naing said newspapers were increasingly deciding not to send sensitive stories to the censors.

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