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The telling lack of timely SMS news alerts on the arrest and detention of Tamils

Writing on the arrest and detention of hundreds of Tamils in the South of Sri Lanka, Ange in an article published on Groundviews had a very interesting observation on SMS based news services in Sri Lanka at a time such as this:

I wonder at the comfortable ignorance the majority of us enjoy being in. We don’t want to be perceived as “not in the in” so we have cable TV, maybe an internet connection or maybe even a subscription to receive news alerts so that we have access to news from all over the world. But we don’t seem too perturbed by the fact that maybe something is happening right under our noses. We don’t mind that we may be the last ones to know. Some of us even don’t mind never knowing at all.

After my news alerts facility became a paid one, I thought I’d not think too much about the cost (in addition to all the other levies etc on my phone bill) and keep it as it would be useful to be in the loop. But as a paying customer I feel slightly let down that I was not informed and instead was made to look like a fool when my friend asked me if I had not heard [about the detentions]. I’m seriously considering unsubscribing and I’m miffed that I didn’t save the details of how one should go about doing so.

I wrote an SMS to JNW (Sri Lanka’s first SMS news service and in my opinion, though struggling to compete with new services on Mobitel and Dialog, still the most useful) just before I wrote this post:

Good morning! Have not received any news of the on going arrests of Tamils. Did you send an alert? It is supposed to be over 1500 according to one web news report I read this morning. Did you send one I missed? This is news! 

JNW’s reponse was that they were working on a story and would have it out soon. I’ll bet that once JNW comes out with it, Ada Derana and Lankapuwath on Mobitel may follow with similar SMS alerts of their own, but will never be the first to run with this story.

5 thoughts on “The telling lack of timely SMS news alerts on the arrest and detention of Tamils

  1. fyi, JNW is on Mobitel. It is an excellent step for Lankapuwath and Mobitel to get into Sinhala & Tamil SMS. Will be useful to see how easy it is to register and how useful and practical these services are. I tried to register but had a technical error come up, but that is to be expected for a pioneering service.
    Hats off to Mobitel for being the first to launch English and Sinhala, Tamil SMS news alerts, while Dialog is a far away second with no Sinhala, Tamil SMS news.

  2. Sanjana, there’s a rather self explanatory ‘story behind the story’ of the sms news alerts and why the mass arrests story did not appear on our mobiles: Reuters who were initially contracted by dialog to provide the content pulled out of the deal around six weeks ago, after repeated ‘differences’ with the dialog management over the coverage of certain stories and the news agency’s refusal to toe the line and follow ‘guidelines’ with regard to specific news items. Derana has since replaced Reuters as the news provider for the sms alerts .

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