Minister of Mass Media and Parliamentary Reforms, Gayantha Karunathilaka has stressed that politically and commercially driven media have to be replaced by good ethical and public-interest driven media.
Karunathilaka was addressing 32 journalists from 14 leading Indian and Pakistani media houses at a five-day dialogue in Colombo that was a capstone event of the East-West Centre’s two-year “Improving Cross-Border Reporting” exchange and discussion program.
Sri Lanka knows the impact that media can have on conflict, Karunathilaka said, mentioning that agenda-driven journalism during 30 years of civil war in his country helped in protraction of the conflict.
Sri Lankan government, he said, is working to create an independent news media regulatory commission that would make it illegal to “push journalists to violate ethics” and instead encourage professional reporting. The minister urged the journalists to “take an innovative approach” when reporting about solutions to the regional issues.
He called upon corporate media owners in South Asia to avoid promoting nationalistic reporting to make bigger profits. Such news coverage prevents the region from reaching its global potential, he added.
The East-West Centre’s sponsored exchange program took journalists from India and Pakistan on reporting trips hosted by partner news organisations in each other’s countries.
The exchange has resulted in more than 45 print and broadcast stories and many social media posts by participating journalists who continue to use this bilateral network to include neighbour-country perspectives in their reporting.