Media unity on national issues
The new Information and Media Deputy
Minister Dilan Perera has assumed office on a most thought-provoking and
positive note by calling on all sections of the media - whether they be
State or privately-owned-to work in unison on at least matters
pertaining to the common interest.
Using very telling images the Deputy Minister said that: "My
endeavour as Deputy Minister of Media is to create a media that would
douse the flames of discord rather than a media that sets the country on
fire." While commending the Deputy Minister on his positive approach to
refashioning the country's media and wishing him all the best, we call
on all sections of the local media to address the issues raised by the
Deputy Minister and to act positively on them.
An objective assessment of the impact of the local media over the
past 25 years or so would reveal that they played a considerable role in
moulding public opinion on particularly the National Question. Sections
of the privately-owned media have not risen above narrow interests. This
was starkly manifest in the way Black July 1983, for instance, was
treated in sections of the media. Since then, it could be said that
these sections of the media have played a negative role in influencing
public opinion on the ethnic conflict.
In general it could be said that while the State controlled media
have been restrained in the way they have treated the ethnic issue, the
same couldn't be said of all sections of the privately-owned media.
While most sections of the local media have advocated communal
harmony and national unity not all privately-owned media organisations
have reflected a high degree of objectivity and impartiality in
analysing the finer and more complex issues in the ethnic conflict. On
such issues these sections betray a pronounced degree of bias and
Two cases in point are power devolution and the P-TOMS agreement.
While more than twenty years of war and destruction should reveal to all
the futility of war as a means of resolving our conflict, sections of
the local media, while not openly questioning this standpoint, have
thought it best to ravenously and relentlessly criticize all earnest
attempts at resolving the conflict by political means. For example,
power devolution is seen as a stepping stone to a separate state and the
P-TOMS as nothing less than "treachery".
Needless to say, such jaundiced perspectives would impact pubic
opinion very negatively. It is easy to sing the praises of peace but
what must be realised is that there is a price to be paid for peace. For
instance, the legitimate aspirations of all our communities should be
met if the conflict is to be contained. These aspirations should be
addressed by a political solution.
Ideally, there should be a meeting of minds among all sections of the
media if these issues are to be addressed constructively. They need to
get away from a communalistic perspective and work unitedly on at least
these national issues if they are to prove a positive force in Lankan