Archive | Media and Communications RSS feed for this section

In Memoriam: Tilak Jayaratne

Tilak’s journey in search of people’s media, from the Sunday Times Tilak Jayaratne, veteran broadcaster and media advocate, passed away on September 6, after a long illness bravely borne.  All those who knew Tilak, and who encountered him in the many different orbits that he inhabited, will recall the intensity which he worked, and the […]

The Rebel Who Peddled Dreams: On Nimal Lakshapathiarachchi (1954–2012)

Nimal Lakshapathiarachchi, who suddenly died on July 19 aged 57, is being described in tributes as a ‘veteran broadcaster’ and a pioneering figure in private radio and TV broadcasting. He certainly was – but that covers only part of his legacy. He was also an indefatigable champion of popular culture, a rebel who undermined, in […]

Stand Athwart Censorship in Sri Lanka

In Tom Stoppard’s superlative play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Ros shouts “Fire!” and when questioned by Guil, Ros reassuringly responds, “It’s all right – I’m demonstrating the misuse of free speech. To prove that it exists.” After surveying the audience with “contempt”, Ros says, “Not a move. They should all burn to death in […]

Gotabhaya Rajapaksha: Too Drunk with Power to Exercise it?

Still image captured from BBC video interview. Excerpt from first conversation FJ: Mr. Rajapaksa are you threatening me? GR: Yes! I am threatening you! Write every single word I have told you if you want – you write a bloody f…..g word and we will see… FJ: Mr. Rajapaksa I called you as a journalist to […]

Where brevity cripples and distorts reportage

Image courtesy eHow Once upon a time, after I presented a public talk in Oslo courtesy of Kumar Rupesinghe, a Norwegian journalist provided me with a refreshing insight into the difference between academic essays and journalese. There is, to be sure, a considerable overlap between the two fields; but the lesson he taught me was […]

New censorship of SMS news in Sri Lanka

A fax issued by the Media Centre for National Security today commands that “any news related to National Security and Security Force, the Police should get prior approval from the Media Centre for National Security before dissemination. Therefore, please be kind enough to follow the above instructions with immediate effect.” See large image of the […]

In Memory of Marie Colvin

Photo via CBS News and courtesy AP Photo/Ivor Prickett Sunday Times “Journalists covering combat shoulder great responsibilities and face difficult choices. Sometimes they pay the ultimate price.” – Marie Colvin A few days ago, I was in a conversation with a fellow journalist and a human rights activist with regard to establishing an initiative in […]

Are Chinese Telecoms acting as the ears for the Sri Lankan government?

The title is inspired by the article Are Chinese Telecoms Acting as the Ears for Central Asian Authoritarians? published in Eurasianet.org, examining the probable role of Chinese telecoms firms, notably Huawei and ZTE, in espionage and surveillance. The article notes that both ZTE and Huawei have signed contracts worth tens of millions of US dollars with governments […]

Mr. Minister, my name is Sunanda Deshapriya. I am not a terrorist.

Photo courtesy JDS An Open Letter to Minister Keheliya Rambukwella Mr. Minister, I don’t know whether you have seen the film called ‘my name is Khan. In it, the main character played by popular actor Shah Rukh Khan Repeats the lines ‘My name is Khan. I am not a terrorist’ at different points in the […]

In conversation with Shashi Tharoor at Galle Literary Festival

As part of the Galle Literary Festival, I had the opportunity to speak with Shashi Tharoor, whose writing I’ve immensely enjoyed read since my University days in India. As the festival’s website notes, Shashi Tharoor is the prize-winning author of twelve books, both fiction and non-fiction, including the classic The Great Indian Novel (1989), India: […]

Bell Pottinger and Sri Lanka: A trail of spin doctoring and whitewashing

Aside from articles appearing last Sunday in the Sunday Times and the Sunday Leader, mainstream media in Sri Lanka has been curiously silent over recent revelations in the British media on the government’s connections with the infamous British PR firm Bell Pottinger. On 6th December, The Independent ran a story on how Bell Pottinger had […]

Women Left Behind: Truth Commissioning in Sri Lanka

A mother displaying the photographs of his sons which are missing during the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) session in Trincomalee, December, 3-5, 2010. Photo courtesy Centre for Human Rights The power and promise of national exercises like the LLRC lie in the way that they can access the voices of those who have not […]

Prescient

When Lasantha wrote the editorial that predicted his imminent assassination he suggested the civil war would turn steadily uglier, then move inwards, as a lizard searching for its tail, insidious in the way each institution begins to lose its independence, the machinery of the ruling family greasing every Tom, Dick and Banda—forgive my allusion to […]