|Another photo by my friend IZ|
For about an hour he answers the questions that we tactfully ask him, explaining us that as a consequence of the last year reforms the press is now basically free. While a couple of years back every article had to be submitted to the filter of the government censors it can now be directly published, if the editor wants to. The professional market hasn't reached excellence level yet: if a 2000 USD/day top gun wants to work here he has to accept a much lower wage or he'll have to change country. Overall though, there are some outstanding photographers who choose this place because they are fond of it or for the great interest it is raising after the recent reform plan.
When he asks us what we do for a living IZ is not very keen on telling him that he works as a TV cameraman: for decades foreigners who have media related jobs and just want to visit the country have been advised not to mention their real occupation in their visa application forms. International media representatives have never been too welcome in a place where dictators have based their grip on power on a tough control of the information flowing into and out of the country. The Burmese guy tells us that we shouldn't worry about that anymore. Visas are granted to pretty much everybody now. Even one of the FCCT (Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand) chiefs, who has been on the government black list for years, has been recently allowed to visit the country. Most likely nowadays the secret service can't even be bothered to put a tail on potential busybodies. The reporter himself still remembers when he used to hang around the city with a camera just for practice and he kept meeting the same fishy passerby at every corner. Bygone times, according to him. Actually, judging from the little we have read, it seems to me that everyone is still very wary of what they are publishing, as if from government controlled the national press had become self-censored, but I hope that his optimism will prove to be well founded.
PS Have you had a close look at that picture? Peace inspired title and a photo of two artillery men shooting a mortar right below it...