By Rajpal Abeynayake –
For a government and a system that is riddled with flaws, and that enjoys excessive wiggle room for carrying out certain undemocratic actions — the most effective antidote would be a credible robust and responsible media. But while we have many facets of the former (i.e.: rampant bad governance), we have very little of the latter.
There is media – and then there is media. There is a thick gruel of corruption, nepotism and haywire governance that the mainstream media cannot possibly wade through partly due to the inroads that have been made into the private media regime by successive potentates in power. Where the mainstream press cannot handle this impossible morass, web-based media no doubt could play the crucial role of the regular muckraking watchdog.
(Nothing wrong with muckraking as long as it is ‘muck’ that’s accumulated at the public’s expense – ‘good muckraking’ is on the lines of the legal admonion in administrative law that holds that ‘busybodies’ are essential in keeping public servants on their toes…)
But what we have as web-based media in this country in the main – exceptions being applauded – is neither credible, robust or responsible.
The modus operandi of these operators which is muckraking for vengeance and mudslinging for pure purposes of demolition, is such a total disservice to the credibility of media as a whole, that you could say they play right into the hands of the regime by undermining the Fourth Estate.
The partisan would be livid as they usually are when the truth is told about the fringe media culture of Sri Lankan websites, but there is no special need to underscore the dysfunctional and pathetically yellow form of Sri Lanka website reportage – because these sites often do a good job of discrediting themselves all on their own.
While a fraction of what these collective sites are saying may be right, the larger percentage of their output is innuendo, fabrication or outright lie.
A recent op-ed piece challenged Ruwan Ferdinands who is the czar of the recently raided websites, claiming that his entire operation is to carry out fabricated attacks on notables, in order that he could then go onto to blackmail them. Suffice to say that this claim was never denied by the said shadowy operator.
There is absolutely no need to labour the point; this newspaper and its enlightened readership knows beyond a shadow of doubt that most of the news websites operating out of Sri Lanka do not practice journalism – they exist almost entirely for character assassination and calumny, because they do it in furtherance of a certain driven agenda, and do it just because they can.
At the risk of repetition, this by and large yellow colour media exists because the new cyber news sphere is wholly unregulated.
It is utterly shocking therefore to see the European Union for instance lamenting about the right to free expression for these sites, without adding a single word about any concomitant responsibility on the part of their operators to be ethical, responsible and fair. Suffice to say that such an error in opinion could not have been accidental considering the resources at the disposal of the EU upon which to base a reasonable conclusion.
In other words, the EU prefers to present just one side about these sites because it appears that the EU is also driven by an agenda similar to that of the sites themselves.
Why Sri Lankan websites have by and large decided to go yellow is incomprehensible as to be comical – there is so much to be exposed and talked about in terms of corruption and bad governance, such as this newspaper has tackled today, without having to fabricate stories or pillory political opponents.
Take the entire Julampitiye, and the Tangalle-thug tendency that we have highlighted today on page 3, and in different ways in previous editions.
This is how the social dregs operate in the dark underbelly of our society due to political patronage, and these are issues crying to be exposed and tackled-down.
But, the web denizens operating from their spooky undercover territories instead insist on a larger dose of innuendo, fabrication and defamation – to go with much smaller doses of truthful revelation.
This is so pathetic that as stated before, there is no need to labour the point – though there is a need to question the sincerity, ethics and sanity of the people who say that the tug o’ war between the regime and web-based media is purely a ‘freedom of expression’ issue.
While the EU plays gallant knight to the distressed, there are still others who say that if these sites truly did wrong, they should be dealt with according to regular laws of libel and defamation.
Though there is some merit to this argument compared to the EU’s hopeless case of breast-beating and tilting at windmills, those who take this latter line of reasoning about filing libel suits are either incredibly naive, or cunningly disingenuous. Anybody knows that with the technology available and the opportunity for anonymous scurrilous attack that the Internet offers, there would be ten new spooky and libelous websites for each one successfully sued in the courts of law.
Not even governments have the time or the capacity to fight such a wanton, hydra headed monster.
It may be almost cliche like but is certainly not cliche in the context of the above – that the EU people here do not understand that media freedom is not the freedom of the wild ass. Wild ass freedom it must also be remembered, gives a bad name to diligent but scrupulously investigative, and therefore useful media.
Lakbima News Editorial
Related posts ;
US Says They Are Closely Following The Case And MOD Says The Two Websites Are Unethical
Sri Lanka Mirror Staffers Arrested And Taken To The Fourth Floor By CID
Senaka Silva - Japan / July 11, 2012
What Mr Abeynayaka didn’t understand is;
//And in the final result let us not forget that the proliferation of websites, some of which engage in the most scandalous character assassination no doubt, is due to the government crackdown on legitimate media institutions, operating under the law but compelled to suffer the long whip of politicians due to undemocratic agendas. If freedom of expression and media freedom is returned to its due place in Sri Lanka today, the prominence given to mud-slinging websites will lessen. This will be the only cure.//
Above part from Mr Pinto’s article;
The ‘Chilling’ Of Free Expression In Sri Lanka
James Bond / July 11, 2012
First things first. Media Rights groups throughout the world should start a campaign calling for the resignation of the Sri Lanka Defense Secretary since he is the killer and a danger to society and himself it seems at this time. He is also in contempt of court.
The pathetic state of the media, NGO and civil society which are big time into self-censorship is largely due to the fear psychosis this goon generates with verbal and physical attacks and murder of journalists, as well as, of course all the other parochial reasons mentioned here including the nexus between capital, politicians and the media.
Hema / July 11, 2012
The other thing he did not understood is this raid was done by another wild ass. The Dog lover Gota. We all have seen how the sec to the MOD talked to another editor Jansz. “They Will Kill You – You Dirty Fucking Shit Journalist” “You Are Pigs Who Eat Shit”
Pandukabaya de Silva / July 11, 2012
Yes old pal, our good friend from the government ‘kept media.’
Why don’t you ask as to why your almighty Prez is cuddling underworld thugs, murderers and rapists? And why he and his brothers threaten journalists in gtter language?
Lets see you being bold enough to talk about that instead of honing in on the easy targets of the EU!
No one cares a damn for your pontificating.
Chandra / July 11, 2012
The EU and Western media consensus is so totally regulated and controlled by the powerful conglomerates that there seems hardly a chance for the wild ass of the Sri Lankan calibre.
Babsy / July 11, 2012
we live in times when our most “powerful rulers” have lost their heads – they have robbed nations money – are also the most isolated and corrupt. They live in gated communities with chauffeur driven limousines and escort and security men. They eat at exclusive most expensive restaurants and stay at resorts and portray saintly images.
They try to stand out but what ever they try to do their small beginnings crop up. Had these rulers were born to riches half of these wouldn’t have happened.
They know that they can kill and still getaway. Their skin is so thick that no alligators skin can match theirs. Therefore we shouldn’t be surprised that all these have made these people ..guess what?
Mahen Silva / July 11, 2012
You are again not addressing the real issue here. Take your own newspaper Lakbima. It is a common knowledge that your owner Mr.Sumathipala is a Casino owner and a very strong Government Politician. Take Island group- the owner is Mr.Welgama, who has been appointed by Rajapakse’s to head the Srilanka Telecom. Take “Nation” – own by Mahinda. We also know that Rajapakse’s have selected you and Malinda to travel to Geneva for the Human Rights Commission to support Sri Lankan government. Do you believe that other than writing a piece here and there you would be able to expose real corruption happening today without being warned by Rajapakse himself or your boss? Only independent paper was Sunday Leader who exposed most of the corruption and human right violations in Sri Lanka. They were attacked repeatedly and finally Lasantha was killed. Many other journalists who expose large scale human right violations and corruptions were murdered or physically attacked. Many independent journalists was compelled to hide and publish their work in web media. It may be true that sometimes Vengeance is quite evident in their work. But in my view SriLankan people are fortunate that this web media exist to expose most corrupt government we ever had. If not for the web media, most of the Sri Lankan’s would not know the corrupt activities of the government. You know how Federica was verbally abused by Secretary of Defense when she inquired a valid question. Do you honestly believe that Independent journalists can exist in Sri Lanka under this government? Without condemning web media, why don’t you condemn Government media, including Lake House, Rupavahini, and ITN for the way they misuse public funds and sling mud at opponents of Rajapakse family? The Web media is the greatest asset we have to put down this evil empire. There can be short comings, but overall only Government supporters like you will oppose web media against Rajapakse Empire. Rajpal, examine your own consciousness and see whether you would agree that we never had a government with this amount of arrogance, intolerance, misuse of power, nepotism, human rights violations, suppressing of media and killing of journalists. By writing against the web media you are ignoring the main culprit or Villain and you are criticizing the great heroes who fight against the Villain
Ainsley Abeywickreme / July 12, 2012
Right on Mahen Silva. This is very true.
Everyone focuses on the web media as a villain but few remember that it is only the web media which exposes misdeeds that the conventional media does not do now, exceot for a very few people…
PresiDunce Bean / July 12, 2012
In actual fact is [Edited out] Mr.Goat was calling the wrong journalist a pig and a shit eater. :)
Raaj Suntharalingam / July 13, 2012
U.S. Government imposes Internet control under Presidential Order. Some media websites are NGO-controled and dollar-crow-fed.