A presentation made to the Sri Lanka College of Journalism, the Sri Lanka Press Institute and the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka today, on their invitation, to help them strategise curriculae development and institutional development over the next 3 years.
When in the course of a single day, you are asked to lead the development of web media strategies for a leading newspaper as well as the online avatar of a new political magazine, published by a person very closely associated with the incumbent regime yet keen to promote engaging, inclusive debates.
My driving interest is in securing more news and analysis in public domain to allow citizens to vigorously contest and best judge what’s acceptable or not. I hope that both entities, in their own way, contribute to a more vibrant media culture and informed citizenry in Sri Lanka.
Media freedom and the freedom of expression took a nose dive in 2008, following trends from the year before. Print, electronic and web media were severely undermined by government and LTTE supported violence – both physical and verbal – against dissent, independent opinion and investigative journalism. Framed by escalation of hostilities in the North and East and the demise of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), journalists and media personnel were killed, received death threats, were abducted, stabbed, beaten, grievously hurt, abused, their families attacked, houses ransacked and forced to go into hiding or flee the country. Based on spurious logic and evidence, many independent journalists as well as media establishments were branded traitors and pro-LTTE.
The keynote presentation I delivered at the Sri Lankan chapter of the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) Annual General Meeting held on 12th November in Colombo.