2008 Colombo Declaration on Media Freedom and Social Responsibility


In October last year, and on many other occasions over the course of the year, I impressed upon the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) to recognise that blogging – globally and locally – was increasingly indistinguishable from content produced by mainstream media and, as such, needed to be afforded the same recognition and protection as traditional journalism.

This parity of status I felt was necessary to encourage traditional journalists to work with and using new media as well as provide an incentive for some bloggers and new media producers strengthen the professionalism of their output.

A summary of the recommendations I made and the accompanying presentation can be read here.

Section 10.3 of the revised Declaration deals with the Internet and notes that,

“One of the most significant developments in the last ten years has been the growth of the Internet, which has resulted in the democratization of media and encouraged the emergence of non professional journalists in the form of bloggers etc. We acknowledge the contribution of bloggers towards the promotion of free speech and democratic media. We also recognize that bloggers are as susceptible to controls by the state, misuse of their work as traditional print and broadcast media. We take this opportunity to commit our support to responsible bloggers and other new media practitioners, and hope to work with them in solidarity towards establishing a convergent media which is strong and independent.”

Section 10.4 goes on to note that,

“We specifically call on the government to recognize the internet as an important space for deliberative democracy, and extend to it, all such policies as would enhance the space of free speech on the Internet, and to avoid all policies of banning, blocking, or censoring websites without reasonable grounds. There is now a convergence between the traditional print media and the internet, with a number of newspapers being accessed through the internet, and we would strongly urge that all the privileges and protections sought in this declaration be extended to the web editions of newspapers.”

The 2008 Declaration I am told will be translated into Sinhala and Tamil by SLPI and would be useful to promote amongst bloggers and new media producers in Sri Lanka.

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