Notes on Buddhist Journalism—4-News paradigm seen as Trojan horse that carries false façade of objectivity
Posted on June 28th, 2011

By Shelton A. Gunaratne© 2011 Professor of mass communications emeritus at Minnesota State University Moorhead

 Writing to this esoteric list, a namarupa labeled Senaka Weeraratna says, “Before we go into abstract issues on Buddhist Journalism as proposed by an academic based in the USA, we must address more mundane issues as highlighted in the remarkable Press Commission Report under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice K.D. de Silva (1964) while taking into consideration present day requirements.”

Let me surprise SW a wee-bit by letting him know that I also keenly followed the Press Commission proceedings from 5 Dec. 1963 through 30 June 1964 as a Lake House journalist hiding behind the label “a Daily News reporter”: Yes, the very namarupa he refers to, almost with a tad of contempt, as “an academic based in the USA”  (Read about my transition to an academic in my Journey of a Journalist””‚Part 4AB, published in Lankaweb, 20 Sept. 2009.)

Using Galtung’s pioneering studies on news values, I have already shown that five concepts central to Judeo-Christian cosmology determined the nature of news. SW is naƒÆ’†’¯ve to imagine that it is possible to bring about meaningful reform in the manner recommended by the K. D. de Silva commission without undoing the vicious impact that the Trojan horse called the news paradigm has had on our collective psyche. Like the Yankee Doodle [who] came to town riding on a pony, the namarupa labeled SW

        “¦ has come to town riding on a Trojan horse

Singing the paeans of a press commission report

Nearly half-century old, though it was.

After 20 years in the Aussie Outback, he returned to his motherland

 But the Trojan led him up the wrong track.

Abstract or not, the priority in the Buddhist/Oriental world, particularly in Sri Lanka, should be to derive a news paradigm that is embedded in Buddhist/Oriental cosmology:

  1. 1.      No-self or non-self with emphasis on impermanence and interdependence
  2. 2.      Nature as existing in harmony with all sentient beings
  3. 3.      Space-time in terms of diversity within unity (holism), and infinite time
  4. 4.      Knowledge in terms of understanding the four truths through personal experience; no-self as a component of ongoing bhavacakra (cycle of re-becoming)
  5. 5.      No Supreme Being; therefore, no supreme news values competing with one another to determine what is newsworthy.

Because many a namarupa in the Sinic world wears three hats””‚Buddhist, Confucian and Daoist””‚simultaneously, we can classify the fivefold areas listed above as Oriental cosmology. This Buddhist/Oriental News Paradigm empowers the journalist to apply a new set of news values that answers the question: To what extent would this copy help to reduce dukkha (suffering/unsatisfactoriness) by curtailing tanha (desire/craving) and related nidanas? Buddhist economics comes into play here.

Thus, the news values applied to conform to the mainstream paradigm””‚significance/ impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, conflict, currency, unusual and the bizarre””‚will no longer reign “supreme.”

I disagree with SW that his “mundane” approach to mass media reform should precede my “abstract” approach because the two are inextricably interconnected. He waves the outdated PC report to call for a comprehensive inquiry into the state of the mass media, hollering that “anti-Buddhist” and “anti-national” reporting is still rampant. The PC report concluded:

From the evidence placed before us we are satisfied that the existing newspapers did not hesitate to fabricate, suppress, slant or distort news and views whenever it suited them. They have been further guilty of anti-national and anti-Buddhist activities, which are more serious than the earlier mentioned lapses on their part.

Rather than seeing the mutual connections between my proposal for a Buddhist paradigm of news and SW’s proposal to appoint a second Press Commission for an “inquiry into the State of Mass Media in Sri Lanka,” SW asserts that “we must address [the] more mundane issues as highlighted” in SW’s proposal “before we go into abstract issues on Buddhist Journalism as proposed by an academic based in the USA” [viz., no-self bearing the label SAG].

In my view, the conclusion of the outdated PC report is not sufficient reason to urge the Sri Lanka government to appoint a press commission on the state of the mass media. Neither SW’s Lanka Buddha Sanrakshana Sabhawa nor any other Buddhist organization “”…”like the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, National Council of Buddhist Women, Sadaham Charika, Centre for Buddhist Action, International Association of Buddhist Women, Buddhist Times and the Thawalama Development Foundation””‚has done the preliminary content analysis research to establish that the Sri Lanka mass media continue to spew out anti-national and anti-Buddhist output. Nor have the social scientists in the journalism and mass communication departments at the universities in Kelaniya, Colombo and Sri Jayewardenepura done any research in this area. SW and other representatives of Buddhist organizations could have collaborated with the university faculty to complete such research without burdening the government to do Buddhist-oriented studies. A few non-random examples of Buddhist stories edited or omitted to accommodate the “news hole” do not provide convincing evidence of discrimination.  

I praise SW for his dedication to the Buddhist cause. In this response, I have tried to convince him and his cohorts that nothing short of a revised news paradigm founded on Buddhist philosophy, on the lines I have outlined in this series of notes, will produce a Buddhist-oriented journalism. Currently, we are trying to use a Trojan horse, a Judeo-Christian mechanism called the mainstream news paradigm, to produce Buddhist Journalism.  This is pie in the sky. Result: more dukkha.

Buddhist scholars in this list could speak up to help refine the suggested fivefold Buddhist cosmology that fits the framework of a truly alternative news paradigm, which complements the mainstream.

Finally, I turn to the comment of a namarupa labeled Ben Silva: “I begin to question if [namarupa SAG’s] mind is affected by the religion mind virus…. To me, the professor appears to be promoting religion and is not adapting to the changing world but still hanging on to 2,500 old year theory that even Indians do not follow any more.”

My response to BS: I do not think that Buddhism is a religion. However, I think it has a superlative code of ethics and a philosophy of life that provides the antidote to the moral degradation wrought by excessive greed in the tottering capitalist system fostered by secularized Judeo-Christian values.

My paradigm is intended to co-exist with what you call the modern (Western) paradigm. It will work on the goodwill of cooperation, not the ill will of destruction.  

14 Responses to “Notes on Buddhist Journalism—4-News paradigm seen as Trojan horse that carries false façade of objectivity”

  1. Raj Says:

    A fight here between a ‘professor of mass destruction’ and a brother of Tissa Weeraratne of Berlin. Ha Ha.

  2. gunarat Says:

    Namarupa labeled “Raj”:

    Can you explain the relevance of your remark to this discussion on Buddhist-oriented journalism?

  3. Ben_silva Says:

    I wish to thank the Prof. for his reply.

    I agree with the Prof. that there is excessive greed in the world and decline on moral standards, even in Lanka. I also agree that Buddhism is a Philosophy and not a religion. Unfortunately many take Buddhism as a religion. To deal with excessive greed and decline of morality, it is better to have a code of ethics accepted by all humans and promote sustainable and green development rather than a religion that brought about destruction to their followers. Buddhism brought death and destruction to their followers in the silk route, in particular to Nalanda Buddhists.
    Many scientists are of the opinion that religion n is a thing of the past. The views of well known thinkers are given below.
    The famed science fiction writer, Arthur C Clark, who once denigrated religion as “a necessary evil in the childhood of our particular species. He was so anti religion that he did not want any religeous rights at his funeral.
    Russell:. I regard it as a disease born of fear
    Einstein: A man’s ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Eiensten’s comment is useful and hope the Professor note it.
    So really ,for good Journalism, what is needed is a code of ethics and not a religion. The Prof. is seriously affected by the religion mind virus and just as a real virus, he is trying to spread the virus. Is he attempting to lead the Sinhalese to destruction the same way as Nalanda Bddhists ? Is it the reason why he acquired the title Prof. of mass destruction. Buddhism never revived in India after the Nalanda debacle. Why is he promoting a religion that is now not even followed in the source country India?. The situation is similar to sing a product that even the maker is not using.
    Now Vaiko is planning to Kill our Prez, imperialists are trying to Harm Lanka, India is after our country. What we need is lessons on how to survive and not lessons on being passive. No wonder he has earned the Title, Prof of mass destruction.
    I have praise for his work on ‘Travel’.
    All I am saying is what famos scientists have said before – that religion is a thing of the past and we have to think of how to survive in the modern world.The Prof. appear to be peddling religion, masking as journalism, just as some NGO’s do peddling religion but masking as aid. Some can see through the smoke screen.

    Could the Prof. kindly read the literature on ‘religion mind virus’.

  4. Sri Rohana Says:

    Ben your comment on 28th June:
    “Why is he promoting a religion that is now not even followed in the source country India?”…….
    If your argument is correct then it applies to Christianity also. Jesus was born in Jerusalem in Middle East where majority are Muslim and Jew. Christianity now not even followed in the source country Israel or Palestine.
    According to your argument Buddhism and Christianity are not valid religions? Then every one in this world has to follow either Islam,Judaism or Hinduism. Is that you want Ben? Then you have to convert either to Muslim, Judaism or Hinduism and change your name as Pakeer, Farook, Mohamed,Jacob, Ben,Rubon or Velupillai, Suppaiah or Karupaiah.

  5. Dham Says:

    Thank you Rohana, for your comment on behalf of Sinhala Buddhists.

    The nama rupa Big Ben started the Ding Dong again after deep depression. He has no new words. Same old stupid arguments , fro which we need not reply.
    He has not learned science. Those who have learned know its limitations, experiments, theories and facts. He was stupid enough to convert to athirst and he thinks now he found the truth.
    Even Buddha called this kind of nama rupa ¨fool¨.

    Fool,
    Without ruining valuable human life , opportunity and advantage of being born in Buddhist Lanka read and understand proper Buddhism before insulting Buddha.

  6. gunarat Says:

    Namarupa labeled Ben Silva:

    You wrote, “The Prof. is seriously affected by the religion mind virus and just as a real virus, he is trying to spread the virus. Is he attempting to lead the Sinhalese to destruction the same way as Nalanda Buddhists ? Is it the reason why he acquired the title Prof. of mass destruction. Buddhism never revived in India after the Nalanda debacle. Why is he promoting a religion that is now not even followed in the source country India?”

    Namarupa BS errs when he says that SAG is trying to promote a religion abandoned in India. Contrary to BS’s prejudiced view of Buddhism. Buddhism is the fourth-largest religion in the world behind Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. The monks’ order (Sangha), which began during the lifetime of the Buddha, is among the oldest organizations on earth. Buddhism was the first world religion and was the world’s largest religion in the first half of the 20th century, in 1951 Buddhism was the world’s largest religion with 520 million adherents. By comparison, the second largest was Christianity with 500 million adherents. Also, Buddhism is practiced by adherents alongside many other religious traditions- including Daoism, Confucianism, Shinto, traditional religions, shamanism, and animism- throughout East and Southeast Asia.

    BS exceeds the limits of Right Speech when he says that namarupa SAG is “attempting to lead the
    Sinhalese to destruction.” BS insults SAG by repeating the concoction of another fool: that SAG has “earned the title Professor of mass destruction.”

    Instead of hurling insults to satisfy his non-existent ego (self/soul), BS should try to focus on the issues of the debate.

    SAG has documented that Buddhist cosmology is very similar to Oriental cosmology, but fundamentally different from Occidental cosmology. Hence the need to adopt the code of conduct based on the Four Noble Truths rather than the Ten Commandments.

  7. Ben_silva Says:

    I would like to show that I was telling facts and absolute truth. According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_India
    Wikipedia states:
    “According to the 2001 census, \l “cite_note-census2001-1” “/wiki/Hinduism” accounted for 80.5% of the “/wiki/Demographics_of_India”. “/wiki/Islam_in_India” (13.4%), “/wiki/Christianity” (2.3%) and “/wiki/Sikhism” (1.9%) are the other major religions followed by the people of India.”
    Before Nalanda debacle, Buddhism was the major religion in India. Now it is hardly practiced in India (Less than 5%). So it is fair to say that Indians have dumped Buddhism. It is also fair to say that Buddhists have been wiped ot in India, Malaysia, Indonesia and countries in the Silk route. It is a fact that there is no significant Buddhism in India, the source country of Buddhism. To state 2001 Indian Stats again, 80% Hindus and 13.4 % Muslims and Buddhists negligible. I think, the Prof. need to exeercise care when promoting a religion that has been dumped by the source country. I want to discuss using reason , evidence and facts and I have no intention of hurling abuse.
    Please confirm that I was right about the current position of Buddhists in India.
    I stated the above and nothing else.
    It is reasonable that I get concerned when a Professor attempt to promote a religion, that has been wiped out in the source country as well as when the followers have been killed. The quote on Prof. of mass destruction, was meant to be taken lightly as I merely repeated someone’s remarks. My apologies if it caused offence to the Prof. Very intelligent scientists have rejected religion and it does worry me when a Professor promote Buddhism, which in the case of Nalanda, caused its followers to be wiped out Rebirth, Nirvana and Karma are associated with Buddhism. There is no evidence or any scientific basis for rebirth or Nirvana.
    If the Prof. is promoting good ethics, it should be stated as ethics, rather than get mixed up with religion.
    Please check facts and confim that Buddhism has been abondoned in India as a major religion. As shown by evidence from Wikipedia, my statement is 100% correct.

  8. Ben_silva Says:

    Si Rohana
    Where did I say that Christianity is not a valid religion. It was SAG who suggested that Buddhism is not a religion. I merely agreed with him.
    You need to debate with SAG to determine if Buddhism is a religion or not. Plese read his previous article.
    Ben

  9. Rohan8 Says:

    Buddhism is not really a religion, this is one of the misconceptions in the world. However Sri Lanka has to be applauded by the rest of the world. For preserving the original Buddhism, that unfortunately died out in India but found a permanent home in the Island of Sri Lanka. Buddhism is not a religion. It is rather the teachings of Lord Buddha who told about the truth about the Cosmos and all life within the Cosmos. Buddhism is not a religion. Buddhism is TRUTH!

  10. Rohan8 Says:

    Ben Silva, some your writings are rediculous. Are you a spiritually enlightened being?! Because if your not stop contradicting the teachings of the Buddha as if you are some super intelligent person which I’m convinced your not. It is good that fools like you come out of the woodwork to challenge Buddhism the Buddha for one would greatly welcome it. Because you cannot Challenge truth and win. This will only make Buddhist teachings stronger. So keep writing like this because Buddhism is the winner in the end.

  11. Nanda Says:

    Ben Silva,
    You have not crtical of any other religion. You have always maintained Buddhism is the worst because it promotes suicide and extinction. If there is any religion in the world which gives you freedom to discuss , it is only the Buddhism. You overstepped every aspect and accusing others that you are being insulted and you are insulting all Buddhist scolars and learned people.
    I can only conclude that you always had a hidden agenda to distroy Buddhism. That is not going to happen as long as Sinhala people are around. They are not going to be extinct anyway as people from all other religions doing good will end up reborn as Sinhala people.
    Stop foolish Buddhism attack and continue your normal writing / wikipidia research. That is the only thing you can manage to satisfy your ego.

  12. Ben_silva Says:

    reply to Rohana8
    You say Buddhism is the truth. Christians say the Bible is the book of the truth. Muslims say the Kuran is the truth. Followers of Judaism believe that God created the earth and their scripts tell the truth. How do we know who is telling the truth as all are claiming that their belief is the truth. There is also a view that people who’s mind are affected by te religion mind virus believe that their belief is the truth. I am merely echoing what the scientists are sdaying that religion is a thing of the past. The closest to the truth is given by science, as science theories rely on evidence and not on belief. As I indicated before, Buddhism has a lot of good things but has got ancient Indians myths mixed up as well.wisdom than
    My aim is to stop the Sinhalese end up as Nalalanda Buddhists. Fortunately, Sinhala Buddhists have more wisdom than Buddhist Sinhalese as NBA pointed out. However, we still nee

  13. Ben_silva Says:

    reply to Rohana8
    You say Buddhism is the truth. Christians say the Bible is the book of the truth. Muslims say the Kuran is the truth. Followers of Judaism believe that God created the earth and their scripts tell the truth. How do we know who is telling the truth as all are claiming that their belief is the truth. There is also a view that people who’s mind are affected by te religion mind virus believe that their belief is the truth. I am merely echoing what the scientists are sdaying that religion is a thing of the past. The closest to the truth is given by science, as science theories rely on evidence and not on belief. As I indicated before, Buddhism has a lot of good things but has got ancient Indians myths mixed up as well.wisdom than
    My aim is to stop the Sinhalese end up as Nalalanda Buddhists. Fortunately, Sinhala Buddhists have more wisdom than Buddhist Sinhalese as NBA pointed out. However, we still nee

  14. Dham Says:

    Big Ben,
    Your aim is to destroy Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Why do you cry about Nalanda. Were you a student Nalanda ? Did you play cricket for Nalanda ?
    Fool,
    What NBA said was , (sinhala) BUDDHIST have more wisdom than (Buddhist) SINHALESE. Don they speak English in UK ?

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