Two news reporters in the country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) were finally released after being jailed for 500 days. Most people think of jail as a place where people are forced to go when they do something bad. So, what did these reporters do to find themselves in jail? They were part of an international team covering the story of how the Myanmar government was dealing with unrest in the country and whether police and authorities were being fair. The two reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe, were arrested when police set a trap for them, promising to share important documents. Authorities stated the Official Secrets Act that made it a crime to use any “secret government” information in Myanmar. The reporting team, however, went ahead and published the report that brought attention to serious issues within Myanmar’s government. It took almost 500 days of worldwide attention and protests before the government finally agreed to release the reporters.
This story highlights the freedom of the press and whether a government can stop news reporters from investigating wrongdoings. What are the two released prisoners planning to do next? They plan to go right back to their jobs and continue investigating wrongdoings!
While this story might seem like it comes from a long-ago Burma, it does bring up a question: Are there rules in place regarding what your local newspaper is allowed to investigate? Do you think journalists should have the freedom to investigate? Why or why not?