Media and Political Reporting in Sri Lanka

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A presentation made during a lecture to students at the Sri Lanka College of Journalism

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Media and Political Reporting in Sri Lanka

  1. 1. Media & Political Reporting in Sri Lanka Sanjana Hattotuwa
  2. 2. Statistics
  3. 3. Modes of Information in Sri Lanka
  4. 4. Media and conflict
  5. 5. Media and Conflict <ul><li>In most cases of long term conflict, media becomes part of the conflict and not part of the solution. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Media and Conflict What a jackass ! We must have more balanced coverage There is nothing wrong with our editorial policy ! I feel left out… What the hell is going on? Every single person here has a different perspective Why am I the only woman here?
  7. 7. Truth?
  8. 9. Media and Conflict <ul><li>Lack of professionalism/ journalism training </li></ul><ul><li>Most of the newsrooms in Sri Lanka are monolingual. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of diversity. </li></ul><ul><li>No democracy in the newsroom. </li></ul><ul><li>Polarization of newspapers on ethnic lines </li></ul>
  9. 10. Media and Conflict <ul><li>Self-censorship of Editors </li></ul><ul><li>State owned media has been a political tool of the governing political party </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of professionalism even in private media </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of training / Existing training not up to industry demands </li></ul>
  10. 11. How do we perceive facts?
  11. 12. Modes of Information
  12. 13. Modes of Information
  13. 14. Modes of Information
  14. 15. Case study <ul><li>On 9 th October 2002, a clash took place between a few hundred people and the Special Task Force (STF) Army Camp in the East of Sri Lanka, in a place called Kanchamkuda. </li></ul><ul><li>Some persons among the group attacked the camp with stones and tried to enter and destroy the camp premises. They wanted the camp to be removed. </li></ul><ul><li>On this particular day, according to LTTE sources, two of their members had been assaulted by STF personnel, a charge which the STF denied. </li></ul><ul><li>The LTTE undoubtedly helped mobilise the mob against the STF camp. </li></ul><ul><li>Unable to stop the agitated mob from entering the camp after using tear gas and rubber bullets, STF personnel opened fire using live ammunition, killing seven people and injuring 14 others. </li></ul>
  15. 16. English Newspapers <ul><li>Four killed as mob attacked STF camp – Premier orders full probe ( Daily Mirror , Wijeya Group) </li></ul><ul><li>LTTE storms Akkareipattu STF Camp ( The Island , Upali Group) </li></ul>
  16. 17. Sinhala Newspapers <ul><li>Gun fire at a group who tried to storm in to a STF camp – 6 dead. 5 STF injured as well ( Daily Lankadeepa , Front Page 3 column, Wijeya Group) </li></ul><ul><li>Four tigers dead after clash in Ampara – PM orders commander to investigate ( Divaina , Front Page 3 column, Upali Group) </li></ul><ul><li>Group which attacked STF Camp shot at. Six dead. 27 injured. PM Orders a probe ( Lakbima , Front Page 2 column, Sumathi Group) </li></ul><ul><li>Military leaders dispatched to investigate Akkareipattu incident where two persons have died. ( Dinamina , Front Page 3 column, Lake House) </li></ul>
  17. 18. Tamil Newspapers <ul><li>Four dead as STF fires into a hartal . 14 injured. Potuvil LTTE leader accuses STF ( Virakeseri ) </li></ul><ul><li>Seven people dead, 15 injured due to STF firing in Thitukkovil – Ranil orders probe ( Thinakkural ) </li></ul><ul><li>Seven dead, 16 injured due to STF firing into a peoples rally in East ( Suder Oli ) </li></ul><ul><li>Hartal in Kalmunei, tires in Akkareipattu burned to protest STF action – PM orders immediate inquiry ( Thinakaran , State Owned) </li></ul>
  18. 19. Observations <ul><li>Not even a single Tamil language newspaper used the ‘stormed’ or equivalent. </li></ul><ul><li>News reports of privately owned English newspapers had the STF firing into a mob led by the LTTE </li></ul><ul><li>State owned newsprint tired to water down the incident and tried to show that the situation was under control </li></ul><ul><li>Private owned media took to the other end of the spectrum and reported the incident in with inflammatory headlines and reporting. </li></ul>
  19. 20. Different worlds Truth? Objectivity? Accuracy? Impartiality? Responsibility? Mob Storm Attack Clash Hartal People Rally
  20. 21. Editorial Positions - March to August 2004
  21. 22. Content selection
  22. 23. 02 17 86 Other 02 18 04 Development Related 04 16 03 Human Rights 00 07 14 Peace Talks 15 10 12 Refugee Issues 11 18 18 Civilian Issues 05 09 33 Arrests (War related) 36 52 78 Actual Combat English Newspapers Tamil Newspapers Sinhala Newspapers Type of Report
  23. 24. 02 17 86 Other 02 18 04 Development Related 04 16 03 Human Rights 00 07 14 Peace Talks 15 10 12 Refugee Issues 11 18 18 Civilian Issues 05 09 33 Arrests (War related) 36 52 78 Actual Combat English Newspapers Tamil Newspapers Sinhala Newspapers Type of Report
  24. 25. Elections Reporting
  25. 26. 2004 General Election coverage
  26. 27. Why? Lack of professionalism/ journalism training Most of the newsrooms in Sri Lanka are monolingual. Lack of diversity. No democracy in the newsroom. Polarization of newspapers on ethnic lines Self-censorship of Editors State media is responsive to conflict sensitive reporting but lacks political credibility
  27. 28. How? Public Service Journalism values Training and capacity building Journalists who adhere to professional guidelines Public awareness Readers, listeners and viewers able to react against bad journalism PCC Media in the public interest
  28. 29. Serving the individual citizen Sustaining, defending national culture and cultural diversity. Fostering democratic processes. Enhancing social, political and cultural cohesion. State Private
  29. 30. Media roles in Conflict Transformation
  30. 32. Framing and defining the conflict Encouraging a balance of power Identifying the interests underlying the issues Channel of communication between parties Confidence-building Counteracting misperceptions Face saving and consensus-building Analyzing the conflict Media Roles in Peacebuilding
  31. 33. Process Events
  32. 34. Media as a shared space
  33. 35. Media as a shared space
  34. 36. Media as a shared space
  35. 37. Media as a shared space
  36. 39. <ul><li>Women need to be more visible at the higher decision-making levels </li></ul><ul><li>Awareness-raising on gender - especially editorial and management levels </li></ul><ul><li>Give women agency </li></ul><ul><li>Represent women’s agency </li></ul>Engender media
  37. 41. Thank You

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