Colombo Telegraph

Rajpal Slams Journalism Awards For Rewarding Journalists Who ‘Betray Sri Lanka’

Editor of Rajapaksa state-owned newspaper, Daily News – Rajpal Abeynayake, has slammed the recently held Journalism Awards for Excellence and its organizers, accusing them of rewarding journalists ‘most adept at betraying the interests of Sri Lanka’s people’.

Rajpal Abeynayake

His editorial in today’s paper titled ‘Avoid Journalism Awards Meritocracy being replicated in foreign service’ has scoffed at the idea of the lack of meritocracy in Sri Lanka’s Foreign Service and has emphasized the country’s Diplomatic Corps does not need the kind of meritocracy that is celebrated in ‘some quarters of the journalistic firmament of this country’.

Referring to the information revealed by JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake this week in the parliament on persons not in the regular diplomatic corps being posted abroad to  majority stations, the Daily News editor has gone on to state that although meritocracy refers to paper qualifications and abilities, it is also equally important to consider intangibles such as ‘loyalty, fealty of the people and integrity’.

“So then, what is there to do with a meritocracy that is so inimical to the ‘interests of the people and of nation?” he has questioned.

In order to make his point clearer on what ‘not-to-do’, he has drawn an example off the recently held Journalism Awards for Excellence organized by the Editors Guild of Sri Lanka annually.

“It appears that in some quarters — where they THINK the be all an end all of journalism takes place in our local milieu — there is a meritocracy that rewards the people that are most adept at betraying the interests of this nation’s people. The recent journalism Awards for Excellence so called, for instance, is a scheme that appears to recognize excellence in prevarication if not outright lying, and outright betrayal,” the editorial states.

He has accused the organizers of the event of recognizing journalists who ‘incessantly scream that 40000 people were killed in the end phase of the conflict in 2009’ while describing the event as an ‘incentive scheme for the most corruptible minds’ since it has marginalized those who are honest and posses the ‘core personal integrity to avoid repeating lies.

Among the award winners of the night is FT journalist Dharisha Bastians won the prestigious Mervyn Silva Journalist of the Year as well as the B. A. Siriwardena Columnist of the Year (English) awards at the annual Journalism awards for excellence 2013 held last Wednesday at the Mount Lavinia Hotel.

Following are the other winners of the night:

·         Lifetime Achievement Awards – Rasiah Selvaraj, D. Solomon Ranasinghe, Bandu S. Kodikara, Ajantha Ranasinghe, Anne Abayasekara

·         Cartoonist of the year – Awantha Artigala

·         Investigative Journalist of the year- Sunday Times News Desk

·         Denzil Pieris Young Reporter of the Year – Aanya Wipulasena

·         Best Designed newspaper of the year – the Sunday Times

·         D. R. Wijewardena award for earning the appreciation of peers and the public – Kishali Pinto Jayawardena

·         Subramaniyum Chettiar Social Development Reporter of the Year – Lakna Paranamanna

·         Best environmental reporter of the year – Nirmala Kannangara

·         Feature writer of the year – Randima Attygalle

·         Scoop of the year- Kasun Pussewela

·         Photo journalist of the year- Rukshan Abeywansha

·         B. A. Siriwardena Columnist of the Year  (Sinhala) – Wimalanatha Weerarathne

·         Sports journalist of the Year – Channaka De Silva

Criticizing the award winners and the organizers furthermore, Abeynayake has stated that it is the kind of ‘meritocracy’ that has rewarded sensationalism and quick claims to fame that has also by extension frowned on the ability to remain unswayed by inducement, or the promise of a quick path to fame.

“It needs on the other hand proven loyalists by which is meant those who have proven their fealty to the country, which means by extension loyalty to the uncompromising foreign policy of the people’s elected government,” he has written.

Despite Sri Lanka’s Foreign Service remaining infamous today for being steeped in politicization, Abeynayake has commended it as the ‘most sturdily independent and uncompromising’ the country has seen since Independence in 1948 and has added its a result that has been achieved as a a direct result of effectively eschewing meritocracy.

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