Sri Lanka Media Epic Fail


The mainstream media of Sri Lanka has failed to do its job; again and again and again. Absurdity after absurdity of the government’s actions have passed repeatedly into the public limelight only to be cast aside by the media by the means of ridiculous well-quoted statements from top government officials.

Take Dayan Jayathileke for instance. He was reduced from hero to zero when he was quoted in the media implying that the government was realistically considering implementing the 13th amendment. This to the man who according to government propaganda 'rescued us from unanimous defeat' at the hands of the Western pro-human rights anti-Sri Lankan coalition at the UN.

Where is the media outcry? if not against the sacking of DJ, at least against the implications of the actions taken by the government to the very initiation of the 13th amendment; an integral part of our constitution. The upholding of which is the duty of any free media framework in a country.

Other Epic fails include the lack of initiative in the investigating and reporting of all the dead bodies turning up everywhere even after the war, not that I think dead bodies being found while the war was on is any less justifiable, but the war is over now, and there should at least be a more rational base to justify the revelation of the goings on behind such atrocious activities to the general public. Even to a media prepared to convolute the already very bendable set of 'ethics' it is governed by.

Other epic fails include the complete lack of interest in questioning intelligently the apparent lack of power of the Sri Lankan judiciary (which is also an epic fail of its own but I’ll write about that later), the exorbitant and skewed taxing system and questionable economic policies (economic and financial critical analysis is almost unheard of except for a bit on LBO), the questions on the justification behind the implementation behind seemingly irrational laws (do i need to go into porno and mobile phones? its been well harped about in the blogosphere) and the apparent disregard to intimidation and coercion in undemocratic provincial council elections (like Jaffna for instance). And nobody even gives a rat’s behind about discussing the age old 'problem' of the executive presidency.

The media is a meek dog that barks only when the government wants it to. It is the government’s smokescreen, a tyrannical propaganda machine. Perhaps I wax too lyrical maybe? What; am I a paranoid conspiracy theorist then?


St. Fallen said...

this blog deserves more attention that it gets
maybe you should schedule your posts for mornings?
9AM is usually good (:

Dee said...

true that.

The Puppeteer said...

I'm not saying that the media in Sri Lanka is of the superior sort, but claiming "The mainstream media of Sri Lanka has failed to do its job; again and again and again" is highly parochial of you.

You obviously haven't got a clue as to what the media in Sri Lanka is up against. As well as the paradoxical problem the media has to work around while reporting. After all cautious media is better than no media. Unless you’re advocating that ignorance is bliss and would rather be in a matrix pod while the government feeds on you.

So sure, go ahead and lambaste the media, while journalists have their lives and families threatened, have to flee the country, get beaten up or tossed in prison, for keeping you informed and trying to keep the government in check in a pseudo-democratic country.

Also are you saying that the code of ethics followed by the media is flawed? Would you spare a moment of the time you spend contriving your dogmatic views of how things ‘should be’ and try to wrap your mind around the consequences that would befall a media establishment if the code was not adhered to? I suggest you look at both sides of an argument before pitching your view.

TheWhacksteR said...

'What the media is up against’ is not the issue here. The issue is that proper functioning is not apparent. Where are the deeper questions that need to be sparking heated public debate at this juncture? Sometimes half a media is worse than none. And a cowed and controlled one is the worse we can ask for

However, I am not saying that our media is completely useless. Just not effective enough in all the most important areas of longer term consequence. It is not playing the role that a media should play in a democracy. It needs to try harder, or find another way to do its duty.

As for media ethics; please get off your high horse, they are as imperfect as they come. They give room to manipulation of the truth. and saying only one side of the story often surmounts to a lie.

Fallen - thanks i'll consider that :)

pissu perera said...

dude, i think you need to look at the problem in context here. for one, almost every journalist who did push the accepted boundaries were found dead or beaten up in some bush or roadside. i don't think i need to give you a list, if you just look at an archive for a time someone was dead or beaten up, you can get the full list but to point out a few examples, there's sivaram, lasantha, keith and the list goes on and on. i think its unfair to ask for the media to put themselves, their lives and those of their families at risk when we have a general public that does not then take up the cause and work with the media. where is the public outcry of issues that the media did bring out?

on the other side of the coin, i think a problem the sri lankan media is facing is that it's slowly facing extinction. very few young people go into it and most of those who do, see it as a a sort of pitstop to bigger and better places. not to say that everyone is like that, but to a great extent it is true. i'd even go to the extent of saying there's very little passion in the journalists of today. this is not something i say, this is something a very senior editor told me.

also, there's a school of thought that if you're not happy with how things are done, it's better to do it yourself ;)

TheWhacksteR said...

Indeed there is, and quite moronically I like to think I’m doing a bit by writing this blog.

You said it yourself; lack of passion. The media needs to be more analytical in its overall approach. try presenting themselves as an entity rather than as a few daring individuals. Focus on deeper moral arguments and policy stances why not?

It needs to come together as an organization. Sure, trouble has hit, and people were killed. Are we all going to cry about it? Or fight back?

Public outcries are usually sparked by the media. That, essentially being one of their prime services to a democracy. I am not blaming the media for failing. Just pointing out that they have failed. Will u disagree with me there? :D

The media is an organization; it needs some impetus to revive itself. Maybe criticism will help. Or maybe it needs (unlikely) foreign investment and big media buyovers to do the trick.

The fragmented and non-unified media organizations we seem to be having indicates no unity among the media itself, IMO.

pissu perera said...

"Sure, trouble has hit, and people were killed. Are we all going to cry about it? Or fight back?"
personally, i think you're being too dismissive about something very real and very dangerous here. if you were a journalist, will you volunteer to be the next sacrifice? would you risk your organisation being burnt down again and again in search of "the truth"? if you will, you're a much bigger person than i, because i wouldn't.

as for the media coming together as an organisation, i think you and i (and some of the journalist fraternity who beat their chests about being the voice of the people) need to remember that at the end of the day, it's a business and the won't do anything extremely drastic to endanger their sources of revenue and/or people that can shut them down.
eg: when thilanga sumathipala wants to contest in elections, what are the chances of the editors in the sumathi group being able to expose government corruption or the government hand in a murder?
i'm not disagreeing with you saying the media has failed, i'm giving you what i can see are reasons for the failure.

TheWhacksteR said...

Yes as you say, coercion and corruptions may turn out to be the primary reasons here.

In the case of business interest and corruption; its cause for even greater fail. Fox news sound familiar?

The reasons are really only important so that solutions can be found now.

And i am not talking about journalists individually you see, i am talking about the media as an entity, just like the government is an entity. And equal chance for these entities to do their jobs in a democracy is not at all apparent. The media needs to reassert itself. It has a responsibility to do so.

PseudoRandom said...

I can't speak about the Sri Lankan media because I'm out of the loop over here (I refuse to pay to access private SL newspapers online), but what I can say is there appears to be a universal decline in journalistic integrity.

As soon as a journalist or his/her parent organisation associates themselves with a particular political party (or 'side' of the story), they lose all credibility in many people's eyes. All their articles become propaganda either for or against the establishment (depending on their affiliation) making the truth more difficult to believe. Even if the article does speak the truth, it is presented in a way that makes the organisation's affiliation transparent, thereby giving us a seemingly one-sided view. Take a look at the BBC's coverage of the war in Sri Lanka for instance. Their calculated use of inverted commas, choice of sources, and the tone of their interviews are a dead give-away for where their support lies. How is that impartial reporting? Even with their less controversial reports, there's so much misrepresentation and sensationalism that the message is effectively lost.

They say if you play with fire, prepare to get burnt. I'm not saying that those who have lost their lives or been incarcerated deserve what they got, but I have to say I've been a bit less than impressed by the whole "oh no, how did that happen? We're supposed to be invulnerable!" reaction. Sorta like the British Army going to the Middle East and then being all shocked when a soldier gets killed.

I think the majority of media organisations all over the world have more or less become mouthpieces of various sides of the conflicts they cover. Maybe if they concentrated on reporting the facts instead of sensationalising and misrepresenting them in order to increase their readership, they'd get the respect they're looking for. I know there are some journalists who haven't sold out, but in my limited experience they're few and far between.

Rehani said...

Dear Mr.Whackster,

With all due respect to you, I think your real age is begining to show with this post (Pun intended). You might wanna see my past posts.

You can meet me at my news agency and i shall spend some time explaining, (if interested that is).
E-mail -

That said, thanks for the entertainment. Thats your freedom of expression.

Thank you.

TheWhacksteR said...

Pseudorandom – Good points. The cause of media organizations are lost, most people now identify 'media' or 'journalism' to use a mre correct term, with what it is; not what it should be. its like calling a government a 'democracy' even when they are openly oppressing opposition and killing people. its hard to break out that paradigm of thought. This ties in with what i said about the absurd nature of the so called 'media ethics'.

Have a look. Their implications, though possibly altruistic in original intent, only end up giving give vast room for manipulation and subjectivisation of the truth.