The Uthayan newspaper printed in Jaffna is unabashedly a TNA newspaper, I believe owned by the brother of a TNA parliamentarian. They have a dedicated staff, who are willing to work under pressure, and little payment to give the Tamil speaking people a version of the news that is often diametrically opposed to the message the Govt. wishes to promote. An article on Saturday, 19th October 2013 UK Telegraph is one that illustrates their defiance. See link below
However more to the point, I would like to go further and say, that at least a Tamil paper can be virulently anti SL Govt. of Mahinda Rajapakse, suffer the odd fire, and beating of a journalist, but is able to continue to be published, owing to the loyalty of its readership and benefactors. The Govt. dare not close it down, as there will be too much international pressure against it and uses it as an example of Media freedom, when the Journalists question that.
What I wish to say is that ironically due to the relative harmlessness of anti Govt. paper that caters to the Northern Tamils, who form a relatively small voter base, they are not as worried as they would be if a prominent Sinhala paper in the South of Sri Lanka took the same approach. The English speaking press also seems to permit criticism of the Govt. as it is the usual point made by Govt. when asked about press censorship, however like the Tamil paper, due to the relatively small readership of this the electoral affect on the Govt. is small.
So if one were to test true Press censorship it is only the large circulation Sinhala papers that the Govt. really cares about. After all the tiny papers like the weekly, Ravaya, Lanka and Janarala which are usually heavily critical of the Govt. have a very small readership and are tolerated just for the reason of showing to the world that we indeed have a Free Press.
For all intents and purposes the large circulation dailies and weeklies are either pro Govt or are balanced with muted criticism directed at a few areas that do not upset the proverbial “apple cart”. There is unquestionably heavy self-censorship practiced in SL as otherwise the very existence of the Newspaper can be in jeopardy, with NO international outfit with sufficient TEETH to protect it if they fall foul and face closure, destruction, or incarceration of all their notable writers and editors. It is difficult for International Journalists to get the truth from them.