Media must stop fomenting tensions
Posted on May 23rd, 2022

By Nadira Gunatilleke Courtesy Daily News

Colombo, May 23 (Daily News): The entire country watched live what had happened on May 9th and thereafter here in Sri Lanka. Since the entire country watched and listened to the main incident and its aftermath, it will be worthwhile analyzing the incidents.

In the past one and half years some private television channels have been provoking people using various hardships the people have been  facing from time to time. Such provocation became intense in the past three months. Every morning, the majority of television presenters were making the people feel that their channel has always stood by the ordinary people and voiced their hardships. Only one or two television presenters were not involved in this dirty and extremely dangerous act. Those one or two television presenters are educated and have a sound knowledge of their duty as communicators and journalists. The other lot did not have any formal education on media and journalism. They just came to the media field (maybe by accident) and are doing their job using common popular unethical tactics. They just blurt out whatever that comes to their minds.ADVERTISEMENT

They did not stop there. They distributed video clips of their ‘dirty morning job’  through the social media. Thus their dirty work would circulate all over the country within seconds. The YouTube channels run by some of these television presenters were engaged in another very harmful act. That is adding fuel to the already burning fire of Sri Lanka. They featured various kinds of crooks through their YouTube program and did their best to make the situation more complicated and dangerous. Earning money was their only objective. Such ‘journalists’ will do anything for money.

Why couldn’t they tell the people how to face hardships successfully?y? There are thousands of examples for how this could have been done. One fine example is the Derana Aruna telecast on May 21st Saturday at 6.30 am. The television presenter, who is a lawyer, made a request from the public to help students who sit for Ordinary Level Examination from today (Monday) by providing them lifts from bus halts to their examination centres whenever they see them standing on roadsides waiting for buses. He asked us to do this while we travel from our homes to our offices, school etc. What a brilliant idea? Schoolchildren are not thugs and you can give them lifts without any fear and without thinking twice.

No journalistic ethics

Every morning other television presenters would report about fuel queues and add their comments. But no one would tell people how to ease their burden. They never tell people to check whether there are staff in the fuel station who can tell them when to expect the arrival of a fuel bowser. This information will prevent customers from waiting unnecessarily and going back with empty fuel tanks.

Those television presenters never told people before joining a fuel queue to check the quantity of the load. Fuel loads are available as multiple numbers of 3300 litres (6600, 13200, 19800 etc) according to the size of the bowsers. Usually it takes at least 45 minutes to unload a large fuel stock from the bowser. Some more time is taken to obtain samples. Anyone can guess the number of vehicles ahead of him/her and the amount of fuel given to those vehicles. Then anyone can learn whether he/she can get fuel by waiting in that specific queue.

Those television presenters never told people that if a policeman is around, it is a sign that either the distribution has commenced or the fuel stock is going to finish soon. They never told people to keep some biscuits, water, glucose, two paracetamol tablets etc. with them, get ready for rain and hot sun.

If the television presenters who added fuel to the burning fire had told those things during their morning newspaper reading session, they could have saved the precious lives of the people who died while waiting in various queues. But what those television presenters did was adding more pressure and hatred to the minds of the already suffering people, making them physically and mentally sick and angry.

When considering the current style of handling mainstream media and social media in Sri Lanka, we cannot expect anything better. In 1988 and 1989 the entire country was set on fire by using simple things such as ‘Chits’ and rumors. But with the passage of time those tools have been modernized. Now social media is being used to set fire to the country. Sri Lanka cannot control this without creative tactics.

In simple words, what we experience here in Sri Lanka is an ‘artificial environment’ that existed in all State universities in the last few decades. Only one political party (this is the political party with a mere three percent representation in the country) and its breakaway party (which does not have a representation at all) dominate all Sri Lankan State universities. No other political party or independent group or individual has a voice in the State universities. According to this political party, all who do not support it are enemies who should be eradicated from the universities. If anyone or any group goes against them and starts to act against them, that would spell their end. First they threaten them and then they unleash violence on them. Several deaths were reported from State universities in the past few decades and hardly any murder got punished. In one instance 24-years-old D.K. Nishantha died in 2014 after being sexually abused by senior undergraduates. He had obtained three ‘A’ passes and entered the Arts Faculty of the Peradeniya University despite many financial difficulties.

It is very significant not because of the way he died. It is because of how the murderers faced the punishment given by the judiciary. They collected the Mahapola scholarship and all the other allowances received by undergraduates by force to pay legal costs to save the  murderers. This injustice and the pure violation of the law, rules, regulations, human rights, was not noticed by any authority or media.

Violent culture

It is the very same ‘control’ we saw here in Sri Lanka during the past one and half months since the undergraduates (they are the only group permanently residing in agitation sites and all the others just visit those sites) established three permanent protest sites, one in Galle Face another opposite the Temple Trees and the last one near Parliament. But the problem is not those protest sites.

The problem is the culture they gradually spread all over Sri Lanka especially in the Western Province with ongoing shortages of some essential items such as fuel, gas, electricity, milk powder, cement etc. That culture is hatred and taking revenge on strangers just like they do during ragging.

According to the Roman Dutch law here in Sri Lanka a person is only a suspect until he/she gets convicted by the judiciary. But this law does not apply in the case of this tiny political party which spreads violence across Sri Lanka. According to them, all who voted or supported the former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa are traitors and they need to be punished. After sensing this evil ‘trend’ several artistes etc. apologized for getting connected with the former Prime Minister and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). They did not commit any crime. Voting and supporting anyone we want is our right. Why don’t the bunch of ‘men in black’ tell this while speaking to the media?

The Constitution of the country cannot be the ‘Bible’ or the ‘Dhamma Pada’ for a political party at one time when it is helping them and become a piece of useless paper at another time when it does not support them?  Ordinary people understand these double standards very well and they remember things. Anyone should can to power through the vote of the people and not in any other way. But it seems some minor political parties have started to think that they can capture power of the country using ‘other tactics’. But the vote is much more powerful than these tactics. Silent people are more powerful than those who shout.

END

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