Q – What do you think about introducing rules and regulations to control the media?
A – I am of the opinion that the media should not be regulated by laws. That is the trend in the world today. Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also acted with this opinion. Attempts were made to include laws in the Penal Code so that even journalists could be punished for criminal offenses, but this was not done during our government.
We removed that clause. We were of the opinion that it would be better if journalists followed ethics to solve their problems instead of the Press Council. We created the necessary environment for that.
But in today’s media practice, we need to honestly consider whether there is a situation where those lofty aspirations are being fulfilled. It is questionable whether the recognized media or the mainstream media has maintained this trust. If trust is breached, it will affect the very existence of media. It also affects the welfare of the country.
In today’s society, if the mainstream media does not maintain its trust, the society will be caught in the impact by social media. Therefore, the media has a great responsibility to fulfill its responsibilities and maintain trust.
Q – What do you think about media ethics and following them?
A – If the media sector is not making their decisions regarding them while they can, it may be manipulated by political power. If so, all of this could turn upside down. So, we have to be careful.
We have a national union called the Bakeer Markar Centre for National Unity. Twelve years ago, a workshop was held to bring together all the major media institutions. Editors-in-Chief, Heads of Media Organizations, Media Owners etc. all came here and signed a statement. It was published under the name Weligama Publication. But ten years later We looked back at that statement to realized that although everyone had signed it, none of these facts had been added in practice.
Therefore, it was decided to make the local journalists aware about these matters. Awareness programs were conducted in all nine provinces. However, at the workshop held in Ampara, a journalist said passionately that even if everything was directed correctly by the local journalists in the media, there would be problems as the editors of the head office would edit it in a different way. They said that separate agendas were being implemented in the head offices.
Therefore, it is up to the media community to resolve these issues. Otherwise the future of the media, the future of the country could change. Because the behavior of the media has caused many problems in this country. However, people are very much aware of the activities of the media. Just as it is the responsibility of the regime to give freedom to the media, it is also the responsibility of the media to enjoy that freedom in a proper way.
Q -What is the responsibility of a professional journalist between political and capitalist operations?
A – We do not need to talk in names about subordination to political agendas and subordination to the agenda of ownership. Some media have personal agendas. Some media have their own business interests as well as the need to achieve various things through their political leaders. Today the media is fascinated by those things.
They themselves understand how the media works today. If the media continues to act in that manner, the people will be able to understand whose agenda the media is operating on.
At our early ages, we thought that the main media was like the Tripitaka, the Bible and the Quran. If something was said in this mainstream media then we believed those things at that time. But today society is more vigilant. The society knows what the media is going to say at their very first move. As a result, people began to watch various channels while the electronic media channels were reporting on one event according to their agenda. There they have the ability to clearly understand what their agendas are.
Also, even if we talk about newspapers, people understand that this newspaper is the newspaper of the leader ‘s family, this newspaper is the newspaper that is loyal to this political party, this newspaper is the newspaper in which the politician invests money.
Sometimes the media does these things out of fear of the ruler. That is because some media institutions have become political victims, ‘Dawasa’ newspaper was sealed. The Times, Lake House were taken over by the government. The media is scared to face such situations. They may be wondering if the newspapers and the electronic media will have to face such dangers. Because of this, they are protecting themselves.
In this situation they lose the dignity of a professional journalist. Sometimes journalists face big challenges. What happens is that there is a breakdown in credibility. They also collapse as an industry. Therefore, a professional journalist has a great responsibility in working in the media field. This task is like a moving train on a rail track.
If it moves a little out of track, the whole thing collapses. Therefore, it is a journey that needs to be taken very carefully. The journalist has the responsibility of maintaining a balanced field of media.
The media is responsible to the people. They have a responsibility for the future of the country. Therefore, all media institutions should think about it. One more thing in particular, looking at what has been published in the media regarding the 20th Amendment in the last few days, it is clear that the majority of the news was published in a manner that fulfills the needs of the government.
Don’t hear me out as a politician. Analyze for yourself. I don’t know who does them. However, those things are very unfair. Everyone needs to be given a balanced opportunity. Judging by the way the mainstream media has behaved in the past, they are showing a fearful nature. When these things happen constantly, people’s motivation for social media automatically increases.