Listening Post
A tale of two elections
A media clampdown in Myanmar and a defeat for big media in Brazil.
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2010 18:26 GMT

Two elections dominate this week's edition of the Listening Post: How do you cover an election in a place like Myanmar where the media is crushed, locked out and punished for doing its job? And we look at why Brazil's election was not just a contest of politics but also a battle of the media.

On November 7, the people of Myanmar went to the polls for the first time in 20 years. For the ruling military junta, this exercise was meant to be a show of democratic development in the country. But as far as PR strategies go, this one was severely flawed.

The regime's hardline approach to the media meant that not only were the elections suspiciously closed to any media scrutiny, but in addition, the barring of foreign journalists from the country generated only negative publicity. Despite the junta's media clampdown however, reports of electoral fraud and human rights abuses within the country trickled out. Journalists made their way into Myanmar via the country's border with Thailand. There were also undercover journalists from Myanmar working in secret to put out their stories to the world through exiled news networks like the Democratic Voice of Burma.

In our News Divide this week, we look at the coverage of an election that the government of Myanmar tried to keep hidden from the world and we also look at how the opposition and its leader Aung San Suu Kyi keep the country on the media's radar.

News about the news media in Newsbytes: In Libya a newspaper owned by President Gaddafi's son runs up against press restrictions put in place by their owner's father; in Egypt, the anticipated release of blogger Kareem Amer from prison has yet to happen; Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, is accused of spying on journalists for the second time; a Russian journalist is brutally beaten; and a new online team has been set up to try to unravel the problem of Blackberry and privacy.

Now onto another election; this time it is Brazil. Dilma Rousseff has just become Brazil's first female president - defeating the media's favoured candidate, Jose Serra. Much is often said of the media's ability to influence politics and in particular the race for elections, but on this occasion the power of the media was undone.

In Brazil a few corporations, some big conservative news outlets and a religious establishment, all of whom were out to influence, dominate the media. But Rousseff rode the wave of support held by previous President Lula to upset the corporate media. Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi reports on the election, the coverage and what it says about the power of big media in Brazil.

After a long haul flight most people just want to get home and relax. But imagine stepping off a plane and being met by hundreds of people singing at you! Our video of the week comes from a new advertising campaign by mobile phone operator T Mobile and is set in London's Heathrow airport where passengers were met by a rather unusual welcoming. Enjoy the show.

This episode of the Listening Post can be seen from Friday, November 12, at the following times GMT: Friday: 1230; Saturday: 0630; Sunday: 2030; Monday: 0300; Tuesday: 1400, 2330; Thursday: 0030, 0730.

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