Mangala flays media


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Information Department chief Sudarshana Gunawardena and Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera at Matara workshop (Pic courtesy Finance and Media ministry)

Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera says all those having smart phones could function as journalists today as the public has lost faith in the mainstream media.

Samaraweera alleges that the mainstream media has lost credibility due to biased reporting and ‘manufactured’ news.

Samaraweera said so, addressing a workshop organised for teachers at Pearl Cliff hotel, Matara yesterday (Jan. 19) by the Sri Lanka Press Council (SLPC).

Samaraweera lashed out at the media close on the heels of Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha attacking mainstream and social media.

Quoting a survey conducted in the US last year, Samaraweera categorised politicians and journalists as the least credible professionals. Declaring that politicians and journalists were in the same boat, Samaraweera said that he wouldn’t say why the former ended up being categorised very low in the credibility index.

Chairman of SLPC Koggala Bandula and Director General, Government Information Department attorney-at-law Sudarshana Gunawardena were among those present on the occasion.

Pointing out that smart phones were freely available among the people, Samaraweera said censorship was an exercise in futility.

Samaraweera said the French government was in the process of discussing ways and means of countering fake news. Briefly discussing international trends, Samaraweera said the current situation couldn’t be rectified by rules, regulations and censorship. He urged the media to act ethically.

Samaraweera called for a free society here while pointing out that Sri Lanka over the past several years topped the list of countries that searched for the word ‘sex’ and the Middle East was known for widespread demand for ‘blue films.’

DG, Government Information Department Gunawardena said as the media faced growing challenges and earned criticism, the industry couldn’t further delay examining entire gamut of issues. Gunawardena said so when The Island asked him whether it was fair to bracket journalists with politicians. He said that for want of sufficient investment and planning, the media industry hadn’t been able to attract the best possible talent and, therefore, there were some undesirable elements practising journalism.

Recently, Dr. Senaratne alleged that a section of the media had taken advantage of an environment free of violence and intimidation to target President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Addressing a rally at Beruwela to promote UNP candidates contesting local government polls, Dr. Senaratne urged the President and Prime Minister to take action against social media vilifying the government.

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