The Media Reform Lanka Initiative based at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at London University on Thursday October 11th 2012 launched its website http://mediareformlanka.com/ which aims to broaden and inform the perspectives in which media law, media policy and regulation are debated and determined in Sri Lanka and the wider South Asian region.
Colombo based senior legal advocate and media columnist Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena in association with Dr David Page and Dr William Crawley, Senior Fellows at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, and Co-Directors of the Media South Asia Project. (www.mediasouthasia.org) head the Initiative.
The work has generated two core papers on Media Freedom and Social Responsibility in Sri Lanka: A Review of the Legal, Institutional and Educational Framework Relating to the Print Media (co-authored by Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena & Gehan Gunetilleke) and on the Political Economy of the Electronic Media (co-authored by the late Tilak Jayaratne and Sarath Kellapotha). The research product encompasses a comprehensive analysis of media reform in reference to the print and electronic media, supported by key interviews with editors, journalists, teachers and administrators involved in Sri Lanka’s educational and self regulatory bodies in regard to the media. Senior lecturer in mass communications at the University of Kelaniya, Wijeyanandana Rupesinghe was of invaluable assistance in facilitating the work with university media teachers.
The Initiative has also commissioned new writing on Media, Policy and Law in Sri Lanka from a number of acknowledged experts and practitioners, including senior editor Sinha Ratnatunga, senior journalists Amal Jayasinghe, Ameen Izzadeen and Namini Wijedasa, academic Professor Sasanka Perera, Dr Jayantha de Almeida Guneratne, President’s Counsel, and columnist cum blogger Nalaka Gunawardene. These writings will be published later in an edited publication.
The Sinhala translation of the two core papers will be available shortly at leading bookshops in the country.
The Initiative seeks to promote Media Reform as a curriculum subject in educational institutions and to build up expertise in the subject both academically and among other key stakeholder groups. In an age of increasing globalisation and convergence, it aims to inform civil society of the importance of issues of media policy and law for freedom of expression and the safeguarding of the public interest. It also aims to widen the constituency which understands the changing international and technological context of the media in the early twenty first century.
The Media Reform Lanka website incorporates the results of a research Initiative which has involved a range of Sri Lankan institutions, scholars and media practitioners and has developed new writing on these important themes. The Media Reform Lanka research team has worked closely with educational and media institutions in Sri Lanka with a view to developing new curricula in Media Policy, Regulation and Law. The website provides content to support the teaching of such curricula and an accessible guide to the issues for different stakeholder groups. The Initiative focuses on the national context and circumstances of Sri Lanka and the existing capacity of institutions of higher education and training in the field of journalism, communication and the media as well as those devoted to the analysis of public policy. A secondary objective is to increase expertise and to promote greater understanding of problems common to South Asian countries and greater cooperation in finding solutions to them.
The website also offers an archive of research material – exegesis and analysis – generated by the research team and structured in a way that will give added value to post graduate students and faculty staff working in the field, and provide an accessible resource for civil society organisations and professionals in Sri Lanka, and other parts of South Asia.