Pathos in the (cashed up) Media.
Posted on July 18th, 2014

D.Chandraratna, Perth

In a way it was sad to read the essay on the print media recently written by Shenali Waduge to this news sheet. She pointed out, very correctly, that, ‘Media is the most prostituted public service entity next to the profession of politics. Anyone can do anything if they throw in some cash. People can be bought over easily and thereafter it is a matter of time that news becomes structured accordingly and the public end up the gullible fools falling for the lies and distortions. The handful of good journalists have to silently bear up or leave that profession altogether.’(LW 16/7)

Gone are the days that we as youngsters waited excitedly for the paper man to ring the cycle bell at the gate early in the morning. The paper man symbolically was waking us up to the real world. The contribution that the daily newspapers made to the national conversation in those formative years after independence is worth reflecting. It was the newspapers, specially the Sinhala newspapers, much more than the radio that was more or less devoted to entertainment, that gave the sense of place, an identity and projected a vision to the new nation Sri Lanka was full of vigor and energy to grow up in the international union of states. The remarkable contributions of the newspapers to the national dialogue especially the national arts and theatre on its present state and future prospects deserves special mention. To us, growing men and women at the time journalism was just a beautiful profession, inspiring, engaging and fascinating with a criticality demanded of a burgeoning nation.

The professional journalist is the one who chronicles local and world events and opens the hearts and minds of men and women to understand, appreciate and experience the world and in so doing to come to an informed stance with regard to one’s own interpretation. His privileged domain, the fourth estate as it is called was heralded as the guardian of democracy, which allows everyone to be heard, especially the voiceless. It was democracy at play to hear the dissenting voice and a self regulated media did not need outsiders looking for impartiality for it had the decency to manage itself as per the protocols of an esteemed profession.

Quality journalism demands the journalist to narrate the story effectively, honestly and impartially. The press in general ensures that governments act truthfully in the best interests of its citizens. The press has the duty to elevate the nations welfare in a forthright, honest and a factual manner. The journalist has the moral duty to search for the truth and collectively the duty of the fourth estate is its unwavering commitment to find and present the truth. The journalist is bound by the highest of moral/ professional standards. While the reader is entertained to a gripping yarn the journalist goes through a grueling task to sift the essence from the morass.

The measure of a free society is that freedom is presented to each and every reader to consider all facets to the story. The journalist, of course has the intelligence in the gentle art of persuasion however frustrating and brutal it may be to the reader. The chattering classes are crying out for media freedom. They are pointing the finger at the government for a hidden punitive censorship, may be self imposed, by fear of stealth, (the usual white vans, motor cycles etc.) for the low status accorded in the rankings by various conglomerates who have for years backed the separatist plan as the solution to the so called national question. The ordinary public is never privy to their perfect solutions, which are never laid out in the open. Even to date no one knows what solutions the opposition has in mind for any national question. The various parties who ridiculed the government for not giving into the LTTE still see the northern media outfits including the TNA blameless in their eyes for the agonizing times endured by the general populace. The chattering classes never suffered the agony for their children have not undergone the brutality suffered by the rural parents of brave soldiers for the sake of our right to life so. Self-censorship, if it is, is better than incitement. We are a delicately poised multicultural nation where the danger of another ethnic imbroglio is just around the corner. When we will be able to enjoy the benefits of a liberal democracy is a moot point. One must be deaf and blind not to see the intentions of groups domiciled in the West, aided by the local counterparts to pounce on a debilitated country. In this age of diplomatic humbug there are countries, which will unashamedly and willingly throw away decorum and decency in diplomacy to pander to the electorate like Canada has demonstrated for many years. Those of us living in Australia are helpless to curtail the monstrous lies thrown down the unsuspecting westerners by a well-organized coterie of groups, be they human rights gurus, academics, greens, and paid up media persons. Fortunately the current Prime minister, an astute, highly intelligent politician has not fallen for the trick. If the paid up media is truthful why is it that this media angst is only among the English-speaking journalists and not so much with the Sinhala crowd. The Southern Sinhala media cannot be all that uneducated and unsophisticated. Can it?

Sri Lankans have a valid reason to be sad about the Press. In this day and age it is difficult for anyone to be convinced that the press stands for the advancement of our nation. The truth and the quality of journalism have a lot to be worried about. We wonder whether it is a worthwhile investment each day for the standard of journalism it provides. While Sri Lankans have a lot to be grateful for the democracy, freedom and peace in our times the tenor of the press is indirectly averse to the welfare and progress of our nation. The news is generally slanted in favor of the minorities who conspire with hidden agendas motivated by the greed for riches offered by vested interests that are flogging anti national agendas. Investigative reporting is rare; news of the world is skewed in presentation and analysis in depth in non-existent. The degree of quality that one expects the news columns to have is lacking. While coverage may be broad in scope the same is missing in the presentation. We like to see a press, which informs and educate without ties and strings attached. We believe that as a nation its citizens need to be informed but must leave that corridor open for scrutinizing, thinking and examining issues without blinders and hurdles barricading such scrutiny. Let us pray for quality journalism from those who own the media.

3 Responses to “Pathos in the (cashed up) Media.”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Presstitutes.

    Many in SL. The NGO lobby pays them to write. NGOs are financed by the LTTE Rump and US regime change division of NSA.

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    They call this freedom of speech. Yes it is freedom to slander that in now portrayed as journalism and freedom of the press. Ordinary people are at the mercy of vested interests and they are day in day out bombarded with propaganda and slanders which can make Goebbels go red with envy. It is unfortunate that people are still do not have media that can reflect their life, culture, wants and dislikes. Since Independence in 1948 Sri Lanka is yet to witness a patriotic news media that is robust in circulation and worth its name.

    Media Houses once owned by renowned Buddhists like D R Wiijewardhana and Upali Wijewardana are now in the hands of Christians and Catholic Action.

    Freedom to slander and as they say now One Big Lie a Day keeps the UNP going.

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    In the “age of information” the media has become one of the weapons used by those in power. It is more so now than at any time in the modern history of journalism.

    With the introduction of the desk top computer and the internet news across the world is instant. But at the same time agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US has used this fast method of information to spy and control. That would be an extreme example. The ongoing diplomatic “war” waged by the Tamil Diaspora is a classic example of making lies the “truth” to such an extent an entire nation is vilified by those unproven accusations.

    Then we have (at least at the moment) the instant internet library to verify anything from how to grow a rose garden to the latest technologies in the Wikipedia. Gone are the days of the hard cover “encyclopedia” except as a collectors item.

    further examples are too numerous to point but I would like to end by stating ‘news” reporting in the US using the television has metamorphed from news outlets to “news panels” where the topic of the day is discussed and debated but seldom objectively reported as stated in the article. the print media is dying because of the internet and “streaming”, a new internet method that now bypasses the CD for music.

    The internet is now regularly used to “inform” the world regarding hot spots such as the recent downing of the Malaysian airline and who is responsible, the Israeli/Palestine trouble that is arousing the anger of Muslims against Israel across the world even though Hamas has been attacking Israel with rockets long before Israel took military action. The slanted reports of “militant” Buddhists attacking “innocent” Muslims in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The way the US media has played down the impact of the BRICS summit which is better reported and extensively covered in the Asia Times. There are numerous other examples but I believe I have made my point.

    New technologies such as “cloud computing” is making its presence as Microsoft is about to lay off 18 thousand workers, since “cloud computing” cuts down on the hardware of the current desk top computer. Google “Cloud computing Wikipedia”

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