Friday, February 5, 2010

The depths to which the standards of journalism have fallen in Sri Lanka

The Government owned and the Private Media, TV and Newspapers have fallen into an abyss, that even the gutter will not tolerate. The quality and objectivity of both have deteriorated to an extent that they only parrot the opinions of paymasters and not of reasoned arguments. One must realize that in a free country we have a right to offer an opinion, but it is the duty of the Media to give a reasoned argument for their stance, and not one that even a schoolboy would challenge.
This has led both sides offering childish opinions that feed some of the baser instincts of the readership, and further destroy any objective thinking on the part of the lay reader whose opinions are stoked and fuelled by the press. I think only a fool will question the clever use of the Media by the Government to put their point across appealing to the fears of the general public with baseless allegations over a period of time, so that the unsuspecting public believes the pack of lies that is being promulgated in the veil of truth. The classic line of accusing the opposition of being agents of the Western Governments ready to recolonize Sri Lanka, and the spurious evidence used to portray them as ones who will compromise the unity of Sri Lanka is an example of clever manipulation of the hearts and minds of those unable to use deductive reasoning to see through bias.
In similar vein the Private Media also draws a line in the sand that they will not cross and use self censorship in a way that stifles objective criticism for fear of reprisal. Then anti government accusations are just parroted almost verbatim, but without reasoning to determine if there is a case for such accusation or not. A classic example is of the accusation that 1.8million votes were rigged by computer. Any fool will know that a result of such magnitude will be apparent within minutes, when ballot boxes are opened, irrespective of any irregularities within the postal voting mechanism. I have been a polling agent and have observed how the ballot papers are first put into piles when they are opened and the agents are able to see this being done right in front of them. An election where one person received such a mandate will be apparent as the piles for MR would have outnumbered that for SF by a long way and I have yet to hear of any polling agent of either party being interviewed or asked to comment on this very simple of gauges of swing.
Sadly, we have a public that does not think (kalpanakaranna) and the responsibility of the media is to help them to see reason. Neither side is doing this, resulting in the public being fooled like pied piper to drown in the sea with no hope of ever rising above the water to breathe. There is no hope for democracy when those who have been given the task of protecting it are themselves mindless sycophants.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you for the most part, but I think you don't read the Island newspaper. I find them to be the only thoughtful newspaper in Sri Lanka without an agenda other than the public good.

Anonymous said...

actually it does have an agenda, an extremely sinhala centric one if you read their bias, but it does allow differing opinions by independent writers which is a positive sign.

There is a long way to go for it to be truly objective