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Media is like a sword



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Welcome


Welcome to the one hundred and forty first (141st) edition of the regular weekly column "The Catalyst".


15thAniversary of Katahanda


Katahanda Media Foundation under the guidance of its founder Srimath Indrajith Liyanage (www.srimathliyanage.com) is doing a commendable service to train media personalities, especially the young ones. This year they are celebrating 15 years of service to the field of media.


Srimath has been teaching announcing, presenting and other media subjects to his students. As there are only a handful of places in Sri Lanka that trains and teaches media related activities, his efforts have to be commended. With his background as a journalist at Lake House for over 20 years, and a TV/Radio/Event presenter in numerous programs and media stations, he is well placed to guide students to be effective communicators, presenters and media personalities. Srimath is the son of leading journalist Gunadasa Liyanage.


I have also taken part in some training sessions under Srimath on presenting.


They have facilitated many leading media personalities over the years with awards such as HM Gunasekara (on 1st August 1988), SirilRajapakse, Lalith SMaithreepala, Newton Gunaratne, PrabaRanathunge, BirtyGalahitiyawa, AriyadasaPeries, PalithaPerera, Nanda Jayamanne, SumanaNellampitiya, NandanaKarunanayake, GamunuWijesuriya, VijayaCorea, Titus Thotawatte, J H Jayawardhana, Wasantha Kumara and Hudson Samarasinghe.


A series of school workshops are organised across all districts to give an idea to students about media and presenting incelebration of the 15th anniversary of ‘Katahanda’.


We make this an opportunity to wish Katahanda Media Foundation all the best for its activities.


Media


Media is like a sword. It can be very powerful, for better or worse.


Recently, there seems to be a lack of newsworthy items that are of national interest. The war wasgenerating a lot of news a while back. But post-war, we are suffering from the lack of news. To overcome the lack of news syndrome, what is being done by the media? The creation of an unwanted hype for minor incidents and provision of too much detail of unpleasant incidents.


Any given society has always had incidents such as robbery, rapes, fights and domestic violence occurring to some degree. Of course some of it is newsworthy. But I don’t believe newspapers and news bulletins should be filled with these stories.


They are negative. They spread negativity. They are not encouraging. They are at times violent. They are demoralising. Over reporting may even normalise these actions. By normalising, you are actually supporting the increase of such incidents.


Negativity


Is it good to spread negativity in a morning news bulletin or newspaper that is read by people as first thing in the morning? I don’t think such stories and such spirit is good for people.


Especially morning news bulletins on radio and TV have to be very careful to not spread negativity. Newspapers also have to think about ways of not letting negativity taking over positivity of people early in the morning, which would have an impact on their entire day.


What it should be


We have to encourage people to do better. We have to spread positivity. We have to spread good things. We have to promote good things. We have to encourage people to excel in things. We have to align our people to face the future challenges of the world. We have to encourage people to do their part for the betterment of this country. We have to encourage our people to be leaders in the development in this country. And I believe that is the role of journalism. Not promoting negativity and all the bad things that happen in the society.


This is sort of stories (Murders and the like) sells easily and that’s one reason why these stories are reported extensively and hyped up. I am not saying to deny the right of the people to get to know what’s happening in the country. However, I believe journalism is not about just giving what people ask for. Journalism should be about being a step above the people and guide them move forward. It should be about helping things improve.


The pen is strong: So is the microphone...and the camera.


The pen is strong. So is the microphone. So is the camera. Therefore that strength should be used wisely and selectively. It should be used for the benefit of the people, country and the society. Over reporting of a murder case does not, at least in my opinion, benefit the people that much. It may just disappoint people. Or it may sadden them. Well, it may excite some. But what’s the benefit?


In certain cases journalism can put pressure on the police or authorities by reporting incidents if they are not taking much action. That is important.


A key role of journalism is to support democracy. That is by allowing people to voice their concerns. So, even if the incident may look personal in nature, if the relevant and responsible authorities are not taking any action to tackle the issue, it is the role of the journalists to discuss it, hype it up and bring the parties to action. My concern is not about these matters. My concern is mostly about average murder, rape, abuse and what not that takes too much media attention for no reason. Of course if the law is not being actioned on a certain case, of course it should be brought to light.


Certain 8pm main news bulletins are filled with coverage on vehicle accidents. Remember, entire families including young children are watching these horrific pictures. Yes, showing the danger and actual incidents that happen would alert people to behave better, but I just feel certain channels do it over. Why not have programs on how accidents can actually be reduced? Why not have experts discuss on how road system can be improved to reduce accidents and thereby create an influence on the authorities? I think that’s a much positive and pleasant approach than showcasing blood!


An opportunity not to be mis-used


Journalism is an opportunity. So why not use it for something positive?


When I write or present, I tell myself, this is a very rare opportunity that I have got, not many people get this opportunity, so I should use is wisely. I should not waste people’s time. Every word I write or say should help and benefit the society. Every word should inspire the society.


I once did a program series on TV Derana fully dedicated to inspire the youth covering areas like dedication, team work, advice on starting a small business and the like.


I think it’s the time for some of our journalists to think deeply. Are we going to provide what is hot and cheap? Or are we going to be serious and provide things that will uplift the people and society?


Media owners and heads have a responsibility. They should not drive media just on cheap popularity. It should be for positive things. For good causes.


I am personally interested in working with TV and radio stations to discuss things like personality development, youth development, small business support, information technologyetc. If anyone is interested in talking to me about something like that, I can be contacted on yvabeywickrama@gmail.com / 0715 332 362 .


The pen is strong. So is the microphone. So is the camera. So, I hope all those concerned would use them wisely!


See you next week!


The Columnist


Yasas V.Abeywickrama is an entrepreneur, trainer, writer and speaker.In 2011 he was recognised as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) in Sri Lanka. He co-founded Lanka BPO Academy (www.lankabpoacademy.lk). Yasas is an Executive Council Member of the Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL – www.cssl.lk).


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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