The truth slaughtered for Mammon
THE deep concern expressed by this country?s tourism and
apparel industries over biased reporting by sections of the Western
media, reopens the decades - old debate on how fairly and accurately the
affairs of countries, such as Sri Lanka, are projected to the world by
these media organisations.
It is no secret that in their agitated pursuit of ?good? stories
which would sell, very many Western, transnational news agencies
insensitively violate the time-honoured principles of journalism, such
as accuracy, impartiality and a sense of balance in news coverages.
Such brazen infringements were quite common in the early years of our
conflict and during subsequent crisis situations in the battlefield, to
cite just one example.
We seem to be revisiting this debate with charges by the local
tourism and apparel industries that developments in Sri Lanka, coming in
the wake of the current wave of violence by the LTTE, are being
misrepresented by some Western news organisations, resulting in business
losses and a clouding of the country?s economic prospects.
The BBC in particular is accused of misrepresenting the situation in
Sri Lanka to Western audiences. It goes without saying that these
journalistic lapses would have a dampening effect on the travel trade
besides hampering business orders from abroad.
We call on these news organisations to refrain from falling for old
journalistic vices, such as exaggeration, over-dramatization,
misrepresentation and even deliberately churning-out concoctions, which
make short work of the truth, which, after all, is what the reader or
viewer is mostly interested in.
Whereas these news organisations would think twice before projecting
falsehoods and misrepresentations about their own societies and
governments, nothing seems to be preventing them from giving a distorted
image of societies such as our?s.
This is a measure of how unjust and lacking in balance, the world
information order is continuing to be.
Putting things right in this sphere is a responsibility of the more
progressive-minded sections of the Third World, but this challenge is
still to be addressed sufficiently. Is it not time something was done
Meanwhile, we wish to remind these erring news agencies and
electronic media organisations that they are more than willing to
sacrifice the truth on the altar of Mammon.
Biased, inaccurate coverages which would earn for them a few dollars
more would spell conflict, war and suffering for countries such as our?s.
Would not the ?news? that 40,000 persons have fled some areas of
Eastern Sri Lanka, on account of Air Force operations - for instance -
provoke communal passions and bloodshed?
Is life in poor countries so cheap that these Western media
organisations would not think twice about flouting every conceivable,
time-honoured norm in journalism?
We urge that the fight be taken to these rumour mills of the West by
our Foreign Ministry and its missions abroad. Enough is enough, we say.
Not only must concoctions about Sri Lanka be exposed and the news
agencies concerned taken to task, but the truth about this country,
actively and vibrantly disseminated abroad.