Ravaya strong-man Victor Ivan’s media ethics hit a new low when he prevailed upon Wimalanath Weeraratne, the newspaper’s new editor hand-picked by him to replace K.W. Janaranjana, to effectively violate Ravaya’s long-held right-of-reply policy.
It happened when a long-standing Ravaya columnist Gamini Viyangoda sought to respond to a lengthy comment by Ivan in the February 11 edition of the newspaper titled ‘‘රාවයේ අයිතිය සහ මාර යුද්ධය’’.
Viyangoda claims that Ivan’s article was libelous to all those who have supported the newspaper and struggled to keep it afloat. He has pointed out that when Ivan had attempted to sell the cash-stripped newspaper to Milinda Moragoda five years ago, many had come forward to salvage the paper, collecting funds exceeding Rs 12.8 million. He alleges that Ivan, in his article, had insulted the group that had led the effort to collect these funds.
Having decided to respond in full to Ivan, Viyangoda claims that he called Weeraratne on February 12 and informed him of this intention. Weeraratne had agreed to publish a response.
However Weeraratne had called Viyangoda at around 10 pm on Thursday (February 15) and expressed regret that he hadn’t been able to publish the letter.
Viyangoda states that he had asked how this has happened when Weeraratne was the editor and the newspaper endorses the right-to-reply principle. Viyangoda said that Weeratne had explained the situation in the following manner:
‘Athula Aiya (Victor Ivan is also referred to as ‘Athula,’ short for ‘Podi Athula’ the tag used to distinguish him from ‘Loku Athula’ when the two were part of the JVP’s first insurrection in 1971) told me not to carry it. I had even set aside space [for the letter]. I did my best to convince Athula Aiya that my position was just, but he did not agree. I believe that you would understand my situation.’
Viyangoda thereafter sent the letter to other media. Referring to Ivan’s charge that the debate over his machinations regarding Ravaya is akin to an employee of a hopper stall claiming ownership rights, Viyangoda titled his response ‘රාවයේ අයිතිය’ සහ ‘ආප්ප කඩේ අයිතිය’ ගැන සුසමාදර්ශයක්’ (A paradigm concerning ownership of Ravaya and the Ownership of a Hopper Stall).
Viyangoda has claimed that Ivan’s article contained factual inaccuracies and that even where Ivan had stated the truth the interpretations he offered were misleading.
In his letter, Viyangoda claims that the fund-raising effort was launched by several individuals including himself and that it had Ivan’s full knowledge and backing. He points out that Ivan himself in his column on November 3, 2013 fully acknowledged the efforts. Ivan in fact had heaped praise on all the key individuals involved, including Viyangoda. Ivan refers to the effort as ‘Gamini’s initiative’.
This, according to Viyangoda, is at odds with Ivan’s recent account of that initiative where he belittles and insults the effort and the relevant personalities.
Gamini Viyangoda’s full letter can be read here