30 October, 2020

Blog

Prostituting Media Freedom

By Malinda Seneviratne –

Malinda Seneviratne

Media freedom, like all freedoms, is not something one can talk about in absolutist language.  There are always caveats.  There are always conditions.  There are lines imposed and there are limits that come from within, the latter kind being two fold, those birthed by fear and those that are spawned by ideological or political preferences.

For all the rhetoric about absolute freedom of expression and objectivity in reportage and comment, the truth is that everyone defines for him/herself an operational comfort zone.  There’s a lot of over-focus on pet peeves and a studious look-askance when friend or chosen ideology slips up.  Those who disagree are probably blissfully ignorant or consciously deceitful.

That said, there is nothing to say that the freedoms that do exist are adequate or those that don’t are not worth fighting for.  In short, things can always be better.

We live in a world that is made of surveillance. This world is people by humans and not gods. As such they are prone to error.  Systems may appear robust but there never impregnable. ‘9/11’ showed us that.  Wikileaks showed us that. There will always be people like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.  There have been and will be the likes of Bradley Manning.  There will also be a Callum Macrae and Frances Harrison who in interpretive sleight of hand will string together fact and fiction, discolor by editing out context, frill with overindulgence in conjecture and such.  Only an informed, alert and intelligent public can sift fact from fiction, weed out ideological and political insert, and get something close to the true picture.

We live in a country that was a veritable media freedom horror story.  Those who are old enough or are interested enough about history will know what the 1980s were like.  They would know what kind of media culture existed during the Chandrika Kumaratunga regime.  Few would not be aware of the constraints inevitably imposed by a war of the kind necessitated by the brand of terrorism unleashed by the LTTE.

These are better times.  But times can be infinitely better, this should also be recognized.  While facts don’t bear out the horror stories trotted out by those who want easy passage to greener pastures or are experts at manufacturing lie for bucks, it is also true that the post-conflict media culture has been marked subtle forms of control.

Several media houses have been purchased by persons close to the political leadership of the country.  That’s ‘business’, and loyalty in commerce is related to tangible benefits.  Politicians can be voted out, businesses can fail; the one does not result in the other.  Loyalties change hands with regime-change.

There have also been instances of journalists being intimidated by politicians.  Some have been beaten up.  These violations cannot be laid on the door of the rulers, following the adage ‘innocent until proven guilty’, but conspicuous sloth and constituent hitting-brick-wall in investigation raise questions. The longer they remain unanswered the more suspicious of those in power one becomes.

Even if we lived in a free media paradise it is advisable to be wary, to be alert and to watch out for even the slightest erosion in freedom because things can change pretty fast.  This is why a courageous, skilled and innovative journalistic fraternity, while important no doubt, does not constitute sufficient insurance against limiting maneuvers.  This is why there are trade unions. This is why journalists should organize themselves.

For all this, if journalists themselves are short-cut wizards without ethics or integrity, look for person gain in the name of the collective, and are willing victims of all kinds of manipulators seeking to sabotage post-conflict gains, they do more harm to media freedom than the worst enemy of these very freedoms.

The Free Media Movement (FMM) has an excellent brand.  It has, through the crooked deals of Sunanda Deshapriya and by seeking out and wallowing in a culture of NGOism where workshops, seminars, foreign tours and such fatten wallets, severely compromised the effort to secure freedoms won and expand the dimensions of these gains.

It is now clear that the Free Media Movement is a virtual half-way house for all kinds of charlatans, a meeting place for thieves, liars and other miscreants.  Its dealings with Jacqui Park, Asia Pacific Director of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) are not shady; they are downright dishonest and amount to in-your-face fraud.  When a person with the designation Park owns openly violates immigration laws with the full knowledge of the FMM and when the FMM Convener Sunil Jayasekera utters falsehoods to defend this miscreant, the FMM ceases to be legitimate. Sadly, this is not ‘new’.  The Park-Jayasekera combine is but the current avatar of an FMM-IFJ combine ready to defraud, ready to lie.

Journalists don’t need such people to fight for their rights.  Given the international stature that the FMM has secured for itself and considering the hanky-panky culture it has embraced, it has done and continues to do more disservice to media freedom than any government that wants to keep journalists under threat.  Add to this the fact that other journalist organizations are either thick as thieves with the FMM or are fighting for a piece of the pie, the fight for media freedom devolves to individuals journalists.

It has come to a point where a journalist may well turn to the FMM or similar outfits and say, ‘please don’t speak for me, thank you.’

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    What about people like Lasnatha and Eknaligoda? You damned hypocrite…Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are still alive and kicking…they did not get white vanned or killed like what the SL government did to Lasantha and Eknaligoda and scores of other journalists!!! You are a damned disgrace to your profession. Enjoy your laptop and other santhosams you got from the government while it lasts.

    • 0
      0

      Bradley Manning is kicking ?

      May be on you.

  • 0
    0

    If Malinda accuses others of prostituting press freedom, what is Malinda Seneviratne prostituting as a shill of the MaRa regime? Same press freedom?

  • 0
    0

    First we should have media freedom in the Island.

    Then we could better talk about prostitution of it.

    Writers of MS kind would only work to further eleminate the little freedom that the journalists enjoy in the current srilanka under the authoritarian rule of Rajapskse.

  • 0
    0

    The way Malinda Seneviratne and Rajpal Abeynaike are suckinbg up to the government they are definitely all-paid-for invitees to Down Under by casino king Packer. There you have the pimps of journalism in a nutshell.

    Their drools make Mervyn Silva and Wimal Weerawansa true patriots.

    Pearl Thevanayagam

    • 0
      0

      I really dont know why guys of MS calibre continue working for leaders like MR. MR is criticised by entire world today. After the upcoming summit, they would continue doing so. We many are aware the man is a criminal.

    • 0
      0

      It is the stupid, ethnically motivated people with a bit of English knowledge, like Pearl, that choose to fall for frauds like Jacqui Park.

      This Park woman is not a journalist. She is working for [Edited out]
      Poor Pearl, who probably studied in a convent in Jaffna or Batticaloa and learned civilistion from some missionaries is imprisoned within this limited slave’s world. She regrets the loss of privilege received from the British and the Americans up to the 1960s and she wants to ‘fight’ to retain the same corrupt privilege in to the future.

      wake up Pearl. You were never a serious journalist and you are never going to be successful in your attempts to shake the system in Sri Lanka using foreign sabboteurs.

      People are smarter these days.

    • 0
      0

      Hahaha P Thevanayagam, what is the difference between you and Malinda? This is what you wrote! ;)

      Inside Story: Paid Journalists Prostituting Before The West
      by Pearl Thevnayagam
      ( The views expressed in this article are author own)

      (July 31, 2013, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Kumar Rupesinghe (KR) is the doyen of NGO beneficiaries and he knows how to make war time into profit for peace and conflict resolution and in the process make himself quite rich.

      Now he is taking cudgels with the Norwegian Government and demanding they pay him back the promised blood money for his peace and conflict resolution projects. The man is the embodiment of NGO procurers and a master of the fine art of fiddling funds in times of conflict among nations.This writer still remembers Mahaweli Reach Hotel in Kandy in 1996 where IA (International Alert) headed by KR held a workshop for journalists where US dollars were handed over to journalists participating. Ms Frederica Jansz personally handed over $50.00 to each participant in a white envelope. His workshops never failed to fill up and Frederica Jansz was his PR face.

      Frederica Jansz of the White Flag exposure claims she had been a journalist for nigh on 25 years as she decamped to Seattle in the US claiming she was hounded by the government. Nothing is further from the truth.

      A former dress shop assistant turned IA (International Alert)’s representative in Sri Lanka for Kumar Rupesinghe, she was upstaged by the UK’s head of IA and then she went on a rampage accusing KR of fiddling blood money from Sierra Leone’s contra-rebels.

      Frederica Jansz was blissfully unaware of journalistic norms or was not bothered; she let down her sources including General Sarath Fonseka and Kumar Rupesinghe who paid her wages and enabled her lifestyle that she though befitted her.

      She snitched to the then FM Lakshman Kadirgamar that KR procured Sierre Leone’s blood money to fund his NGO International Alert. All the while she ran IA’s Colombo’s office and was paid handsomely by IA. She had only one ambition; that is to make as much money as possible and to make herself a journalistic icon in the eyes of the media.

      FJ had no formal journalistic training. She was visiting North and East under the auspices of church NGOs and she was freelancing for the Sunday Leader. Not until the year 2000 did she become a permanent staff and a thorn on Sonali Samarasinghe,’ side; a lawyer and erstwhile paramour of the Late Lasantha who would tie the knots with him just two weeks before his murder on January 08, 2009.

      Unlike intrepid journalists who could not be bought for money, FJ bent herself backward and even inveigled the Late Lasantha Wickrematunge into getting an editorial position. After Lasantha’s murder by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, she soon stepped into the shoes of Lasantha once his new wife Sonali Samarasinghe, another opportunist, decamped to the US citing witch-hunt by the government following Lasantha’s murder.

      These fly-by-journalists – if one could so address them – are a shame on the noble profession.

      From J.S. Tissainayagam to Sunanda Deshapriya; to Nadarajah Guruparan to others who made a mockery of journalism and who cited government harassment of journalists in Sri Lanka, these vultures have time and again sold journalistic ethics for their own profit. And the West bought their canards.

      Both Tissainayagam and Deshapriya were receiving massive funds from foreign countries to propagate free press. CPJ (Committee to protect Journalists) based in New York and Sweden where Deshapriya is now domiciled cannot see the selfish motives of these so-called journalists.

      While Sri Lanka spawned journalists with the integrity of journalists such as Manik De Silva, Tarzie Vittachi and a host of others who remained sub-editors and their names never graced the by-lines, we are compelled to watch in dismay these fly-by-journalists who would sell their grand-mothers for their own profit.

      Mangala Samaraweera did not speak in vain when he said that reporters could be bought for a bottle of whiskey. No truer word was spoken.

      :0 ;) ;) ;)

  • 0
    0

    If someone , blame the government and support the LTTE the he or she is the true journalist

    • 0
      0

      @kris
      Blaming the government does not mean you support the LTTE you idiot!

  • 0
    0

    There you go Mr Chelliah; the hallmark of a true Tamil who cannot bear to see another Tamil coming up. Who needs Sinhalese to cast us down. Suffice to say people like you are the reason Tamils cannot get parity in their own homeland.

    You sir, are no different from disgruntled and frustrated Tamils, who never went anywhere and going nowhere. You are mired in your own failure. Get a life.

    • 0
      0

      Pearl, please don’t assume that Chelliah is a Tamil, or a man for that matter. Also please don’t attack Tamils in general.

      There are trolls roaming the CT with fake ethnic names: In a way it’s good because the arguments must be logical instead of demonizing an ethnic group going by the pseudo-names of the commentators.

    • 0
      0

      How about the caste ?

      Caste wise, Tamils treat every other Tamil equal ?

  • 0
    0

    MS

    Who better than you to wax eloquent about journalistic prostitution!

    For crying out loud!!

  • 0
    0

    Malinda Senviratne is, I understand, writing the definitive book on lying, murderous hypocrisy, being paid an ADDITIONAL stipend by the family that employs him at the paper that provides his daily bread (and free laptops). When this hits the bookshelves with a launch probably supported by the Hon. Dr. Sarath Amunugama, similar to that provided “Gota’s War,” it will be met by headlines in the Daily Noose and accusations of “paid agent” directed at anyone brave enough to even call this b…er a true son of a stooge from Mrs. B’s days and brother to a woman sitting comfortably in the US and having “book launches” paid for by the Sri Lankan Embassy in that country!

    WOULD ANY OF THE DONKEYS WHO WILL NOW SHOUT “IMPERIALIST AGENT” PLEASE DISPROVE EVEN ONE OF THE STATEMENTS MADE ABOVE?

  • 0
    0

    Pearl….obviously you read selectively. And when you do that, you miss a lot. Here’s hoping for less myopia and less fixation with the dictum ‘if you do not agree with me then you must be friends with my worst enemy!’ Keep spewing invective…it might clear your chest, but not the heart or mind. Cheers….back to writing.

    • 0
      0

      If proof be needed that this creature’s hypocrisy knows no limit, here it is! That he can speak about other people “spewing venom” is indicative of the kind of low life with absolutely no respect for the truth that he is!

  • 0
    0

    This bugger Malinda thinks he is also a great Journalist just because he can coin a few sentences and smatter a bit in English. In the absence of real Journos, eliminated by the regime in power, these media prostitutes think they are the Journalists. O tempora! O mores!

  • 0
    0

    Dear Thiru,
    I was carried away by Chelliah but I certainly do not fail to appreciate your sentiments. Hvaing said that, you too must have first hand experience where fellow Tamils have stabbed you in the back. I experienced this at Lake House with the late T. Sabaratnam. But that can keep for another day.

    • 0
      0

      This shows again what a vindictive person this ‘Pearl’ is, really from the bottom of the ocean. She even insults a dead man’s name.

      But she fails to address my point about her attempt to use freignsabboteurs.

      Pearl, take it from me. Other Tamils don’t have to take you down. You are already in hell. Trying to be an English ‘journalist’ doesn’t change any thing.

      Your mind is impure. Try convrting back to Hinduism.

  • 0
    0

    Oh my God! Seems this woman Pearl is really no shining pearl.She is so full of dog-eats-dog venom. Every article by her spews bucketfuls of venom about some writer or the other. Nothing good to say about anybody but herself. She has brought the eloquent profession of journalism to new depths of selfish and revengeful cut-throatism that will make even the worst scum among our present day politicians and lawyers shine like glow worms in the dark. High time somebody taught her the true ethics of journalism. Thank god she is not in the legal profession. It is already corrupt without her.

  • 0
    0

    No wonder The Nation has very poor circulation.

  • 0
    0

    Mr. Seneviratne,

    Have you forgotten Lasantha Wichramasinghe?

    • 0
      0

      Lasantha Wickrasinghe got what he deserved, Poor chap.

      • 0
        0

        When is yours and your boss’s deserved turn?…

      • 0
        0

        tch.. tch.. Poor Lasantha. They have even forgotten his name. Wickramasinghe?? Wickrasinghe?? :-(

  • 0
    0

    Dont you love it when a Class-A pimp gives us a lecture on “prostituting the media”?

    • 0
      0

      Lectures, OH yes;

      This class A Malinda Always lecture us about his Prostitutes’ VERGINITIES.

      So he knows about his Job like his bosses.

  • 0
    0

    Can Malinda cross his heart and hope to die and declare he is not going to Aussie courtesy of Packer the casino king?
    Just a simple yes or no would suffice.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.