I’m pretty pleased that Groundviews was awarded a prestigious Manthan Award South Asia under the e-news category. The grand jury’s evaluation of the site noted, “What no media dares to report, Groundviews publicly exposes. It’s a new age media for a new Sri Lanka… Free media at it’s very best!”
This year, Groundviews was the only Sri Lankan initiative featured in the e-news category and also the first Sri Lankan initiative to win an award in this category. The site was also shortlisted in the e-news category in 2008.
This is the second prestigious international award for the site. In 2007, the year Groundviews was launched, it won an Award of Excellence in New Communications from Society for New Communications Research.
We hit 1,000 posts this year, and what I wrote on the site at the time bears repeating in light of the Manthan Award,
Over three years, Groundviews has borne witness to that which traditional print and electronic media did not, and for well-known reasons, could not. Post-war for example, our path-breaking coverage of the situation facing IDPs in Menik Farm was picked up and featured on leading domestic and international media, including the New York Times, Al Jazeera and the BBC. The wealth of debate and submissions online already makes Groundviewsunique as an online resource and platform for engaging discussion in Sri Lanka. We are globally recognised as an authoritative voice on Sri Lanka and were the first to feature a mobile version, and the first to leverage social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
At a conservative average word count per submission, we now feature well over one and a half million words on the site of original content. Recently, we hosted the world premiere of a short film on one of Sri Lanka’s least known communities of African origin. Banyan News Reporters, a series of satirical articles on key issues related to war, human rights and peace has generated a cult following, and is sui generis in Sri Lanka as an innovative way to flag issues of significant concern in cycles of violence. Groundviewshas commissioned award winning Sri Lankan poets and dramatists to bear witness to violence. The site has also featured compelling and innovative photojournalism that explores, post-war, hope for a just and enduring peace amongst our citizens. A series of articles commemorating the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983 and the race riots of 1958, along with a series of short-form videos, remain invaluable resources for the student of conflict resolution and the discernible historian.
Over 160 authors have contributed to the 1,000 posts published on the site to date. There are over 9,300 comments to date generated by this original content, penned by from those as diverse as senior diplomats in governmentand retired civil servants to university students and those writing into online media for the first time in English. These comments alone feature nearly one million words. Framed by our progressive editorial guidelines, these comments are invaluable insights from citizens in Sri Lanka and from the diaspora unique to the site. For example, The Internment – A Collective Punishment? by Dr. Devanesan Nesiah has been read over twenty-four thousand times and mind-bogglingly generated well over sixty-thousand words of critical comments through over 140 responses to date.
Our 1000th post is a significant milestone in a quest to define journalism as it should be in Sri Lanka, and a peace with dignity for all which we believe is so much more than the absence of war.