Discuss as:

In reforming Myanmar, junta mouthpiece gets makeover

Reuters

Employees get freshly printed copies of the New Light of Myanmar at the newspaper's office in Naypyitaw, Sept. 19, 2012. Established in 1993, the state-run New Light of Myanmar is the country's only English-language daily newspaper. It will soon face competition from private publishers and is undergoing a redesign.

Reuters

Editor-in-chief Than Myint Tun holds up a dummy of the New Light of Myanmar in Naypyitaw, Sept. 19.

Reuters reports — The New Light of Myanmar has an image problem. That's putting it mildly.

Created in 1993 as the mouthpiece of a military junta, the newspaper once described democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi as "obsessed by lust and superstition," while praising the achievements of generals who kept Myanmar in poverty and fear. Its nickname was "The New Lies of Myanmar."

Now, with the junta gone and a reformist government in power, the mouthpiece is getting a makeover.

"Feel free to ask me any question! We are very transparent now!" cries Than Myint Tun, its affable, betel-nut-chewing editor-in-chief during a Reuters tour of the state-run newspaper, the first by the international media.

The New Light is the country's only English-language daily -- but not for long. Among its reforms since taking power last year, Myanmar's quasi-civilian government has effectively scrapped censorship, boosting an already vibrant weekly newspaper scene. It will allow the publication of privately owned dailies in early 2013.

With competition looming, the long-derided New Light is battling for relevance and readers.

Hate-filled propaganda has been replaced by lively editorials and entertainment news. Cartoons that once showed Suu Kyi as a toothless crone now comment on hot issues such as political transparency and the popularity of Western dress. Full story…

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was made available to NBC News on Oct. 17, 2012.

Reuters

Employees manually insert advertising supplements into freshly printed copies of the New Light of Myanmar at the newspaper's office in Naypyitaw, Sept. 18.

Reuters

Employees manually insert advertising supplements into freshly printed copies of New Light of Myanmar at the newspaper's office in Naypyitaw, Sept, 18.

Sign up for the NBCNews.com Photos Newsletter