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Government Gazette

Media’s responsibility

The media has earned the encomium of being the watchdog of the nation and for good reason. For no other agency or medium could influence public thinking and perceptions as the contemporary mass media. Not for nothing then has the media been credited for making and unmaking of Governments.

Sri Lanka has been fortunate in having a vibrant media culture which has helped shape public opinion as well as reflecting the public mood. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the media over the years had played the most significant role in keeping the public up to date with the unfolding developments in the social, political and cultural spheres and has rightfully earned it’s position as the Fourth Estate behind only the executive judiciary and the legislature.

True there have been periods when the country’s media were subjected to certain restrictions. But these fetters could not prevent the mass mood prevailing over all such restrictions.

The public by and large did not condone efforts to prevent their right to information and most post Independent Governments learnt this truism to their own cost.

Therefore it can truthfully said that the public have over the years evolved into a mature lot who cannot be easily deceived, be it by Government propaganda or other vested interests masquerading as purveyors of genuine news or information, to influence it’s thinking. Today the people have learnt as they say in journalistic jargon the art of reading between the lines.

But with the giant strides made in the media field with the advent of multimedia TV channels there has been a mad rush to disseminate new at present with speed been of the essence more often than not truth being a casualty.

The very term ‘first and fast’ used as a catchline to attract the viewers interest by certain channels is a good example of this phenomenon. In the not too distant past we have had the experience of a channel being temporarily suspended due to an irresponsible news telecast in this mad rush to be the first with the news.

This tendency was seen during the height of the conflict when competition was at it’s zenith which unfortunately resulted in falsehoods or half truths passed down as news that sometimes bordered on the provocative and incitement to communal violence.

This may well have been the reason for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to plead with the media to be more responsible, now that the conflict is over. The President is aware of the vital role that can be played by the media in the healing process after the decades long bitterness and estrangement between the two major communities.

Speaking to media heads at Temple Trees on Friday President Rajapaksa made an earnest plea not to use the media to disturb the communal harmony in the new era that has begun with the defeat of LTTE terrorism and the unification of the motherland. “My earnest plea to you is not to write or broadcast anything that would create unnecessary divisions in society”.

The President has already embarked on an earnest mission to rebuild a fractured society driven by communal divisions for decades. He is therefore anxious that nothing queers the pitch in this endeavour to forge a united Sri Lanka where all communities enjoy equal rights and no longer live in suspicion of each other.

The President told the heads of media “ there is a danger that even a small incident could be blown up by provocative elements to cause much damage”. He added “do not write anything to arouse hatred, do not let another terrorist movement to emerge”.

The President no doubt is aware of the negative role played by certain media especially during the early days of the conflict that went on to exacerbate the deep divisions that were already present .

Hence his advise to the media to act with caution. He is obviously determined to harken to the slogan that henceforth there will be no communities based on ethnicities in the Sri Lanka but only those who love the country and those who don’t.

It will be the responsibility of the media to help foster such a concept that would see an end once and to all divisions in the national polity that saw the nation plunge down a precipe. The President is now ready to raise the nation from it’s fallen depths.

Hence his determination to see nothing stand in the way of this onerous task. It will be the responsibility for all segments to support his endeavour. The media no less.

Everybody should rally against false propaganda

Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Minister Risath Bathiyutheen says once the demining activities are completed, the Government will commence the resettlement activities in the North.

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Leave problems in President’s hands

In the face of the usual misuse of democracy by critics and opponents, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has shown all Sri Lankans and the world that problems can be solved by correct action at the correct time and in the correct manner in consultation with the correct people and that he is the correct person to be entrusted with the problems of the country.

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An alternative path to peace

Although the war against terrorism has come to a successful end, it is universally accepted that ultimate peace can be achieved only if we could find a solution acceptable to all parties of the conflict, the Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and other communities who reside in our country.

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