SUNDAY LEADER FAILS TO APPLY ETHICS OF JOURNALISM
Posted on July 12th, 2012

By Shelton A. Gunaratne professor emeritus at Minnesota State University Moorhead

The Sunday Leader (July 8, 2012) published a story titled “Gota Goes Berserk” written by its eminent editor Frederica Jansz, who faced a legal tiff with Gotabhaya Rajapakse recently.

We do not know how many comments the Leader received on this gutter-level story. The next day, it published 22 comments moderated by its editorial staff. But all the selected ones were those supporting the editor’s stance aimed at exposing GR as a foul-mouthed nincompoop.

The following comment that I wrote failed to pass muster:

FJ:

It is clear that you provoked Mr. Rajapakse to lose his patience and use foul language. Buddhist ethics enshrined in the Exalted Eightfold Path requires a devotee to observe Right Speech. By violating Right Speech, Rajapakse has clearly shown that he is no Buddhist.

You have to take part of the blame yourself for deliberately provoking GR to lose his cool for writing a saucy story that has no redeeming social value. Had you followed the Buddhist approach to journalism, you would have observed the Sila (virtue or ethical conduct) dimension of the eightfold path, viz. right speech, right action and right livelihood.

By quoting filth, you have also violated Right Speech. A Buddhist-oriented journalism would avoid biased/abusive gossip writing. The fact that you are a Catholic should not stand on your way to follow Buddhist principles.

Lankan journalists should not blindly follow the Western norms of commoditized journalism. We should treat news as a social good, not as a commodity.“

My comment followed the Middle Path. But perhaps Jansz preferred only those that agreed with her point of view

While Gotabhaya needs to face the consequences of using foul language, Frederica needs to learn the ethics of journalism. She should have observed the conflict of interest provision of the (Western) journalists’ code of ethics and assigned another journalist to interview GR for the dog story after determining its news value. The conflict of interest arises from the fact that FJ and GR are inveterate adversaries. One cannot, therefore, expect FJ to write an “objective” report” involving GR. It is obvious that her sole motive was to vilify GR.

Another violation of ethics was the verbatim reporting of gutter language. Perhaps she followed the precedent set by the American press that chose the verbatim reporting of foul language that Richard Nixon used during the Watergate revelation. But Sri Lankan need not blindly follow the American path.  Journalists in Sri Lanka have a better code of ethics embedded in the Exalted Eightfold Path.

I also think that GR should seriously think about stepping down as defense secretary. He has done his share for the country. The craving for power has blinded him to forget that no-self (anatta), change (anicca) and unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) are the three characteristics of existence.

25 Responses to “SUNDAY LEADER FAILS TO APPLY ETHICS OF JOURNALISM”

  1. Vis8 Says:

    The “Sunday Leader” is just another of those so-called web sites which is hell-bent on twisting anything, at any given opportunity, to discredit the government. It is obvious these individuals have extreme hatred or vested interests.

    They are not too different from cheap trash websites like ‘lankaenews’. Best is to ignore these morons.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    “I also think that GR should seriously think about stepping down as defense secretary. He has done his share for the country. The craving for power has blinded him to forget that no-self (anatta), change (anicca) and unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) are the three characteristics of existence.”

    ABSOLUTELY NOT.

    Power has NOT corrupted the DS. He is the same PASSIONATE and simple man he always was.

    This is FJ’s thinking and TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

    SL needs GR today MORE THAN EVER!!

    Dogs may bark but the caravan pushes ahead.

    Long live Gota (the saviour of SL)!

    I seriously think Sunday Leader should be banned instead. VERY few SLs read the rag.

  3. Marco Says:

    The author ought to explain “Journalists in Sri Lanka have a better code of ethics embedded in the Exalted Eightfold Path.”
    Name one journalist

    Here, we have a Civil Servant paid by the tax payer foul mouthing a journalist (provoked or not) for the world to read. (see Economist)
    Incidentally, was FJ not right to ask the question about importing Puppy dogs from Switzerland at the expense of offloading paying customers, when the likes of Otara Gunewardene and Mrs Lucien Rajakarunanayake able to find suitable puppy dogs to be adopted by Sri Lankans.

    Shameful!

  4. Marco Says:

    Simple men import not Chocolates but puppy dogs

  5. Asoka2468 Says:

    Here is what I cannot understand. The writer from Sunday Leader called the Defense Sec two times. First she called him and made him upset and laid the ground work to get him to say all the nasty things he said to her. He has done more good to our country than that stupid woman from The Sunday Leader. He is doing so many good things for our country that for the first time we can be proud to be Sri Lankans.
    The Defense Sec. is a huge asset to our country and I THINK MOST PEOPLE KNOW IT. There is corruption in all countries. The question is if the Sunday Leader is trying to boost its readership or trying to create problems ?
    They have never reported or published anything positive about the Defense Sec. People have to be careful and take this with a grain of salt.

  6. Dham Says:

    “I also think that GR should seriously think about stepping down as defense secretary. He has done his share for the country. The craving for power has blinded him to forget that no-self (anatta), change (anicca) and unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) are the three characteristics of existence”

    Rubbish ! Agree with lorenzo the king.

  7. dhane Says:

    Frederica Jansz is NOT a eminent editor who faced a legal tiff with recently. She is only a 3rd class editor and write some rubbish when Leader Newspaper sales dropped.
    As Lorenzo says nobody wants to buy this rubbish paper and Gotabhaya Rajapakse need more today & tomorrow.

  8. ekelbroom Says:

    I am told that a Media Survey conducted in May 2012 has revealed that the number of readers (NOT buyers) of the Sunday Leader is a little over 50,000 which is far, far behind that of the Sunday Observer, the Sunday Times and even the newly-launched Ceylon Today (Sunday Edition). This raises the question as to whether in her desire to boost sales, the Editor was driven not by a need to publicize the importation of a puppy but rather by a need to obtain a controversial headline by provoking the Defence Secretary using the puppy as an excuse.

  9. Leela Says:

    I used to write regular comments to ‘The Sunday Leader’ sometime back. That was when Janz used to publish opposite views to her line of thinking as comments. Though she had published whatever rubbish she thought fit as feature article even at that time, we the readers were given an opportunity to voice our opinion freely. And there was a large number and a variety of comments; meaning the paper had a large subscriber base. Though the paper exhibited anti national traits, we thought at least it backs the principle of egalitarianism. And I though Janz herself is a thorough democrat.

    However, when she started to withhold comment that opposed her wisdom and started publishing only things that praised her line of thinking, I realized we were taken for a ride, and Janz is a fraud and her paper is a shit house. So what Gota said is absolutely correct.

    Just like the government press, Sunday Leader too has become monotonous and a boring paper to read. In no time Sunday Leader lost even that little popular appeal it once had. I am sure, Sunday Leader has not enough subscriber base right now for it to claim ‘a national paper’ title. Perhaps it is on the verge of closing down. Don’t take my word; count the number of comments each article it carries; some has none. That means; a very few must be reading it. If not for the financial backing of Pakia and the likes of other anti-national NGOs and western embassies, ‘The Sunday Leader’ would have long gone bankrupt by now.
    Leela

  10. dhane Says:

    Sunday Leader was bankrupt Company even when Lasantha was the chief editor. Many suppliers to their Printing Press STOP giving credit as payments are partly paid little by little the good Lady Accountant. Also some suppliers do not accept even their cheques sure to get returned. However all of a sudden Sunday Leader got some funds to buy a Web Offset machine when Lasantha was living. It is doubtful they have even 50,000 copies printed. Its now obvious Janz lady is straggling to keep the sales up by head lines. Better Sunder Leader go out of publication for the country and media.

  11. Sri Rohana Says:

    What ethics this so called anti Sinhala, pro tamil terrorist news paper having. Ranil openly admitted that he paid Rupees one million to Lasantha for Ranil’s election campaign. This is none other than prostitution in journalism.
    This newspaper now publishes for Colombo based tamil tiger terrorist supporters and anti Sinhala readers. Can anyone show any article published against LTTE tamil tiger terrorists, against Anglo American imperialists, against Indian hegemony’s by Sunday Leader. What they highlight is everything against Sinhala nation and against Sri Lanka.
    When UNHR pass any resolution against Sri Lanka, it is a best, hot news for Sunday Leader. U.S or Britain or India said anything against Sri Lanka then Janz jumps roof high. In 2009 Just before velupillai went to eelam hell, tamil nadu state parliament jokers passed a resolution against Sri Lanka, this was a front page news with photos to Sunday Leader. It was my last day I bought this toilet paper. For everything one guy wrote against Sinhala nation he paid back and now velupillai appointed him as the editor of “eelam news” in hell. Janz also has equal qualification to take over editor post for “eelam news” in hell from Lasantha.

  12. samaraweera Says:

    This is not the first time that Janz displayed her arrogance. By publishing the strory about “the White Flag” case she thought she would be popular among the Tamil diaspora and get funds from them and NGO’s. Subsequently in the ‘Annual Journalists Awards’ she demanded an Award for publishing the White Flag story. The Sunday Leader did all the propaganda against the war supporting the West and the terrorists. Sunday Leader is not a National minded paper. She would be very lucky if she can get a market for 50,000 copies for her paper ! Gota Rajapakse did a great job and could do more for the country and he should stay !

    P.A.Samaraweera,
    Melbourne

  13. sena Says:

    Hear Hear the professor is talking about ethics in Sri Lanka and the lack of it in Western press which is far more professional than the press in Sri Lanka either pro or anti government. His criticism of western press practice of confronting power base, which is very important for the prevalence of social integrity is surprising. The purported misappropriation by GR is small compared to history of theft by SL politicians who consider public property as if they inherited it from ungey appagen and ammagen. However it is the duty of the press to bring forward such theft and to counteract it by bringing up personal matters is against the interests of the public. Beside the powerful in Sri lanka have the benefit strongest legal mechanism to go after the people who expose them and GR can make use of the law if there is any misrepresentation. Talking about conflict of interests, the professor should be reminded of Sri lankan legal system which is fraught with conflict of interest at much larger scale for e.g. the military court appointed to judge SF. Look like there is recent awakening of public action on the state of corruption in SL which is threatening to negate the sacrifices and gains of 25 thousand war heroes – health and state engineering corporation unions have started a public awareness campaign of massive corruption in their institutions.

  14. Jayantha Says:

    Prostitutes sell sex for money.

    What Sunday Leader has done is pretty much the same thing.

    Well why is there such a big demand for pornography. Sunday Leader’s editor is virtually doing the same thing. In this case for selling more newspapers

    JP

  15. lingamAndy Says:

    Jayantha
    To be contrary to your opinion !
    no big demand Sunday Leader’s only selling market for 50,000 copies !

    My concern is ….
    Does Frederica Jansz know what happend to Lasantha in day light !!!

    AL

  16. jay-ran Says:

    I too aggree 10% with Lorenzo that “SL needs GR today MORE THAN EVER!!”
    In addition to GREAT CONTRIBUTIONS DONE DURING THE WAR, look at the GOOD WORK DONE BY GR in major cities! There have been many Govts & City Mayors previously,BUT NONE WERE ABLE TO DO THE EXCELLENT WORK DONE WITH GR’s LEADERSHIP in many parts of Ari Lanka. Recently I met a Sri Lankan parents from Bambalapitiya,who visited US to see their daughter living here, WITHOUT MY ASKING HE WAS IN FULL PARISE FOR THE PRESENT SITUATION AROUND COLOMBO CITY and was THANKING GR, although this family bindings were more with UNP than UNP.
    FJ is a MAD WOMAN ALL OUT TO GET GR’s BLOOD for the humility faced by her recently owing to FALSE ALLEGATIONS ON GR!!!

  17. A. Sooriarachi Says:

    The eminent Prof Guneratne has misjudged the Sunday Leader editor by referring to her as an “eminent editor”. The Sunday Leader only wants to bash sriLankan interests irrespective of which party is in power, and ignore all LTTE attrocities. This policy is its life line. It was never a profitable journal through a customer base for sales, but it survived and will continue to survive as there are many anti SriLankan forces that need a gutter journal like this and they will continue to bankroll this newspaper. Last year it was revealed that the UNP funded the Leader paper from going bankrupt.
    Sunday Leader need to be thankful to President Rajapakse for not taking control of communications in SriLanka, unlike what President Obama of the USA has done recently, though the free media champions as expected are mum about the US action.
    Nevertheless, if the Leader report is true, Gotabaya Rajapakse needs to control his temper and guard his tongue, even if provoked by the type of F.Janze, who is not an eminent journalist but more like a lackey of the enemies of the nation.

  18. Lorenzo Says:

    So only 50,000 Sunday Leader newspapers are sold!

    If one newspaper is read by 4 maniacs, that is only 200,000 miserable souls reading it. That is only 1% of the population! So quite correctly, who is Lassantha? MOST people DON’T KNOW and DON’T CARE.

    But there are internet readers of the crap but MOST of them are stateless fools. They are anyway UNIMPORTANT to SL.

    Even among the 1% most of them are LTTE losers, UNP losers and those who buy it for toilet paper.

  19. Dham Says:

    Jayantha,
    You mean FJ a protitute ? Was it Lasantha who bought her ? No wonder Sonali left him and migrated to Aus.

  20. ekelbroom Says:

    Friends, as I mentioned previously, the Number of Readers (NOT buyers) of the Sunday Leader is a little over 50,000. If we assume an average of 4 Readers per copy, this then means that the Number of Copies sold per week would be between 12,500 and 15,000. Under these circumstances, can one blame the (desperate) Editor for eliciting ‘Sensational Headlines’ by whatever means possible ? :)))

  21. callistus Says:

    This article is one of his good ones and is more interesting than some other travel stuff. But the last paragraph ruined it by even suggesting ‘I also think that GR should seriously think…’. The professor emeritus must be seriously out of his mind. Also the readers must have observed that there has been a lot of Leader supporting people giving ‘thumbs down’ here.

  22. Fran Diaz Says:

    Gota is doing a fine job as Secy. of Defence. With you, Gota, all the way !

    Why is Ms Janz provoking Gota at this point in time, when Security Issues are all important to Sri Lanka ?

    Attempting to connect some dots on some relevant points here :

    * The Navy is being asked to withdraw from Mullikulam Navy camp. What on earth for ? This Navy Camp is all important for Sri Lanka’s security to guard against ILLEGAL MIGRANTS & DRUG SMUGGLERS, mainly from Tamil Nadu, India. Also to contain Tamil Nadu fishermen from poaching in Sri Lanka sea waters. Note also that Rev. Reyappu Joseph is still in Mannar.

    * Mullikulam is located in the Mannar area. Mannar is the off shore OIL area and has to be protected. As with all the Natural Resources of Lanka, the Oil fields of Lanka belong to the People of Lanka. GoSL & our armed forces are the guardians of the Resources.

    We say to Gota : Best put the phone down on errant journalists and don’t get caught to their nasty traps. There are a number of subtle traps being laid on in Sri Lanka, inimical to the vast majority of the People of the land.
    Dear Gota, get yourself a dozen of puppy dogs, we are very happy that you love doggies ! And our thanks to you for all you and your family folk have done for this country and its masses of People.

  23. bathgediya Says:

    Someone has suggested that the Sunday Leader should be banned. I totally disagree. Banning it would only give it credibility. This kind of journalistic garbage should be allowed to go on until it poisons itself and dies a natural death. Obviously, yahoos like this Janz character should not be able to have access to senior members of government.

  24. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    Yes, I agree with you b. Nobody should have direct access to top Senior Officials of the Government. Break down in Protocol.
    Everyone should go through their respective Secretaries and obtain appointments to see or speak.

    NO TOP SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL SHOULD TALK ON THE PHONE ABOUT ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS, WITH ANYONE, OTHER THAN WITH GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. IF ANYONE WANTS TO KNOW SOMETHING, IT HAS TO BE A FACE TO FACE INTERVIEW. PERIOD.

  25. nilwala Says:

    Frederica Jansz has initiated the telephone conversation regarding the transport of a puppy that was being paid for by DefSec’s private funds, purely in order to provoke him and record it. Clearly, she has done so with malicious intent in the full knowledge that he is under much stress dealing with the multiple national issues being handled by his Ministry. He is known to have a short fuse, but considering the success with which he has handled the many challenges he has had to find solutions to, he has earned the respect of the nation, and his short temper is a small price for the nation to pay for the efficiency with with he gets things done.
    However, it is time that he faced this problem and found ways to stop himself, and exit a conversation with a polite short excuse when he finds his temper rising. Moreover, it is time that “call screening” is done before he picks up the ‘phone, and that he stops taking calls from journalists….particularly from those known to have ‘mala fide’ intent.

    It would be a bad idea however, to ban the Sunday Leader. We need rags like The Leader to remain available as venting devices until such time that they die a natural death.
    It takes all sorts….as the old adage goes!

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