RANTS AND REALITY ABOUT
In the first place the Media Ministry is not seeking
to enforce a media ethics regimen from outside the industry, but
that has not stopped people from crying murder. It’s a
hysterical reaction -- but it is also telling, in that it is
indicative of the misplaced nature of common dissent -- in this
era of protests gone mad.
But the absurdity of the entire ‘ethical media’ protest
contretemps is clear from the fact that the response to the
charge that the media lacks an ethics regime, is for
practitioners and their backers to look for scapegoats,
fall-guys or distractions. For example it is being said that
state media or state controlled media is to blame for ethics
violations by the bushel-load.
Those who see the speck in the others’ eye do not see the
mote in theirs -- and that’s biblical wisdom. Demonizing what is
conveniently labeled as ‘state media’ is an old trick, and it is
difficult to teach old dogs new tricks, which is why they keep
pulling the same old dead rabbit tricks out of their hats …
The state media bogey is convenient. In this country, the
‘state’ was at the beginning, not supposed to own media
institutions in the first place. But, it became beyond clear
that the private media is essentially a creature of kept
vested-interests of a particular coterie of the business
oligarchy. The state media became an essential component of
governance, particularly for progressive regimes which were
spurned by the business oligarchs for obvious reasons.
The state media’s establishment, obviously meant that certain
smoke and mirror operators who fancied themselves as king-makers
could not make or unmake governments from the Board Rooms of
their media empires, as things happened in the past.
Hell hath no fury worse than oligarchs scorned. Together with
civil society, they launched a valiant campaign to win back what
they thought was birthright -- the power to make and unmake
governments at will. Campaigns were launched in earnest to
privatize Lake House and to open IPOs for various so called
state media institutions. That these plans of mice and men were
not successful is a testament to this nation’s peoples’ good
fortune. Imagine a country which is a nominal democracy run by
business oligarchs controlling vast media empires?
However the thwarted impulses of the control freaks of the
kept media of the business oligarchy, has led to the sustained
tactic of the demonization of the ‘state media.’ Ethical tenet
to ethical tenet, the below the belt tactics of the privately
controlled broadcast media is no match for unfair play, if any,
on the part of the state media. But the Eran Wickremeratnes and
the Chandra Jayaratnes parrot the line that the state media
violates ethical standards, as usual not alluding to specifics
or pointing to real violations, so that the issue is up for
Eran Wickremeratne may think that his whiter than white
whites make him a paragon of virtue, but his support of anti
national causes doesn’t make him any more ethical than the next
opportunist, despite his current sartorial inclinations.
Moreover, Wickremeratne will rant that such an opinion -- such
as the one preceding -- is not ‘ethical.’ Facts however are
scared and comment is free, provided it’s fair.
Wickremeratne may think along with his Darth Vader accomplice
in pontificating to the press, that ugliness-lover Chandra
Jayaratne (who decried the Colombo beautification programme!),
that being namby-pamby and insipid in style, but economical with
the truth and the facts -- is what media ethics is all about.
No, that’s media humbuggery and that’s what the majority of
the pro-business oligarchy’s private media is all about. In this
space, this editorial writer ISSUES A CHALLENGE TO BOTH THESE
PEOPLE to point to one instance where the state media has been
unethical i.e.: unethical by definition, in falsifying facts, or
concocting stories for the purposes of maligning somebody. May
be they can point to a smattering of stray episodes if they can
at all – but a single swallow doesn’t make a summer.
Eran’s rants remain just that – they are rants.