Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Priorities change along with the news headlines – the world we live in

Is it the media that makes the news or the other way round. I sometimes wonder in the case of the Sri Lankan media. I know it is an old cliché to blame the journalists and not the news, but I do believe the journalists in Sri Lanka have a lot to learn about news reporting, and independence of their news, and the sources they use, and their reliability.

Further the actual news content that gets printed is often, to the frustration of self respecting journalists, at the whim of the editor or the editorial policy of the news paper or for that matter TV. It is even more frustrating to the rational reader, watcher, that Sri Lanka is very poor at disseminating objective news.

Thanks to the proliferation of blogs we are able to get some news, albeit lop sided, but we know clearly whose side the writer is on, rather than in the news paper where they are trying to have it both ways and not succeeding in either. I find it very interesting to read articles on the blogs, but even here they are limited in the news and political field. There are hardly any political blogs on the web that truly express a frank opinion.

I presume even bloggers fear for their lives in this state where the Govt. is petrified of news against them.

One important matter I would like to point out, as I am constantly besieged with callers, saying why this and that has not even got a mention in the news, when some irrelevant or less important item got into the news. I am at a loss to explain that except to say that the quality of the reporter and his report that he sent to his paper did not get the attention of the editor in the case of an important piece of news.

It is important to know that some reporters are more favored by their editors than others, so it is important when there is a crucial event of national importance that the event organizers ensure adequate coverage by suitable reporters. Sadly it is the onus of the event organizer to ensure the bases are covered this way if his item gets the best coverage.

So readers of Sri Lanka news, remember you are missing about 50% of the news that does not get a place in the media, and you just hope it is not important. The decision has been taken by the Editor! 

The topic of the essay is as priorities change as the daily headlines change, and so our focus also changes, making it difficult for the reader to scale the level of news in order of importance as even some insignificant matter can garner headlines if on that day there is nothing of more significance! 

Another important aspect of news, that applies universally is that in this era of saturated coverage that changes from day to day, heinous crimes are easily forgotten and the criminals get away with them. In the Sri Lankan context the perpetrators of these, many elected members of various councils hope that after a few days their crime disappears from the front page, so that they can slowly get released on bail, (even for murder) until their case comes to be hears, which in this country can be after the criminal has expired from 'natural causes'.

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