By Chandra Jayaratne –
To Editors of Media Institutions; Enduring Conspiracy Theories
A Sunday Paper published today in a Column “ Sunday Punch 2” titled “Rambuk’s ‘right to info’ poppycock”, quotes the chief government spokesman, the Media Minister as stating “ the Lankan people do not require a Right to Information Act”, and “There is more than enough access to information. In Sri Lanka, democracy is such that the government has only two TV channels, whereas there are over twenty TV channels owned by the private sector. In print Media, the government has one Sinhalese, one Tamil and one English newspaper-the rest is owned by the private sector. I do not know what the urgency is to bring an Act. An Act is needed only in a country where public has no access to such rights”
There is no purpose in debating neither the validity nor the rationality of the statements of the Media Minister. Let us assume, as articulated by the Minister, that the operating environment in Sri Lanka, allows the Media, and the Editors of Media Institutions, the democratic space to practice, the accepted best practices in journalism and the journalists to freely engage in their professional activities, express views, opinions and engage in investigative journalism.
In the above assumed context, here is a challenge to the Editors of Media Institutions in Sri Lanka!
Those of you who are courageous and have the commitment to strive to have your names potentially inscribed amongst those recognized for the World Association of Newspapers “Golden Pen of Freedom Award” in journalism, can attempt to develop, by research, investigative journalism, a competition or other means, a list of 10- 20 most enduring conspiracy theories in Sri Lanka since its independence.
“Conspiracy Theory”, is defined as “a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for an unexplained event”.
The Time Magazine on the 40th anniversary of the moon landing asked whether it was just a sinister hoax and then developed 10 of the world’s most enduring conspiracy theories. These included The JFK assassination, 9/11 Cover-up, Secret Societies Control the World, The Moon Landings Were Faked, and CIA and AIDS.
Derik Bradshaw in the Guardian wrote on “The Worlds Top 15 Conspiracy Theories of All Time” and included some already identified in the ‘Time’ published list and also included Jesus and Mary Magdalene, The Death of Princes Diana, The Shroud of Turin, The Holocaust, Global Warming, and Who really wrote the plays of Shakespeare?
The Telegraph list in a similar initiative had many of the conspiracies identified earlier and others like, Harold Wilson was a Soviet Agent and Elvis Presley Faked His Own Death.
It is hoped that the Sri Lankan Media Editors will design their challenge to cover not only the 10-20 most enduring conspiracy theories at a macro level, but will in addition expand the structure to further sub classify 5- 10 political, ethno/religious, economic, business and social/societal conspiracies theories as well.
I trust that in the interest of your readership, you will kindly accept and give leadership to this challenge in the near future.
With Best Regards,
14th September 2014