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A cartoon’s footprint

The Network of Women in Media, India called it “a new low point for misogyny in the print media”. The Women and Media Collective said that it had allowed “for gross sexism and crudity to override any form of civility in journalistic communication” and that it was “derogatory to women and women politicians”. The focus […]

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Inclusivity and information

Inclusive Development and Growth was the rubric of a discussion held recently at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute in Colombo by the South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI). Invited to lead the discussion, ably moderated by Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, were Lord Meghnad Desai, Founder, Centre for Global Governance at the London School of Economics and […]

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ICT without agency?

There is in Sri Lanka an Information and Communications Technology Agency. There are also Ministries of Science and Technology, Mass Media and Information, Telecommunication and Information Technology and incredibly, Technology and Research. In addition, we have the Department of Government Information. Finally, there is a National Science and Technology Commission. The combined financial and human […]

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A thousand days

I don’t want to go back to war. I don’t want Sri Lanka to go back to war. My fear is that most of what we are doing today, and who we are, will drive us back to one. One thousand days after the last war ended, what gave rise to it is still largely […]

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Hacking mayoral campaign promises

In Open-source policy formulation for Sri Lanka’s capital, an article published on the Lanka Business Online website recently, the Head of the Policy Planning Group, Milinda for Mayor Campaign and renowned policy analyst Prof. Rohan Samarajiva looks at how mainstream politics can be made more participatory. The promise is of a direct democracy model with […]

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The growing censorship in Sri Lanka

An order by Jayantha Wickramaratne, the Inspector General of Police in Sri Lanka and the same chowderhead who once said women could record themselves getting raped through mobile phones, to the Director General of Telecommunication Regulatory Commission to suspend the licenses of twelve websites exhibiting nude photographs is the first step in Sri Lanka’s post-war […]

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Communicating for Peace

Information Communication Technologies (ICTs), now often touted as a panacea for socio-economic development and part of the Western donor orthodoxy, fail to make any sense for those enmeshed in violent conflict, those touched by its long tail and those who fall outside our circumscribed vision or oftentimes, our urbane westernised bias.This is why I have proposed a deep and meaningful exploration into the way ICT can help engender peace and conflict transformation. I am interested in how (and indeed, if) democracy and peace can be strengthened in countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Colombia, Timor Leste using ICT – how they could be made more resilient to the mercurial actions and policies of political leaders and non-state actors that often sow the seeds for more conflict, how they could give voice to the voiceless and marginalised, how they could strengthen the participation of youth, children and empower women in reconciliation.

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Citizen Journalism: Bane or boon?

In Sri Lanka, it is a conversation that’s largely still in English, and also limited to urban centres.The potential of citizen journalism, however, is its ability to provide a forum for all citizens – male and female, of all ethnicities, castes, classes and religions – to express themselves freely, society will better accommodate ideas and measures that engender peace.As we have witnessed in countries such as the Philippines, information in the hands of a public equipped with mobile phones can be a powerful democratic imperative that brings down an authoritarian and corrupt governments …. This will need to change and soon.There are other significant challenges, not unique to citizen journalism and new media, but certainly augmented by the very nature of the media that they rest on. In a conversation with the author, Dan Gillmor, Director of the Centre for Citizen Media based in the US and widely regarding as a leading expert in Citizen Journalism averred, “… we must also be careful that citizen media that is irresponsible, unprofessional, partial and inaccurate – does not hinder the growth of free voices on the web.”

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Citizens Journalism, War & Peace

Citizens Journalism, War & Peace“while we certainly need vigilance to prevent acts of terrorism, and firmness in condemning and punishing them, it will be self-defeating if we sacrifice other key priorities – such as human rights – in the process” – Kofi Anan in 2002The “War on Terror”, that diplomatic, political and military strategy of choice after the attacks against civilians in New York in September 2001, is one that has been silently waged in Sri Lanka for over 27 years…. It cannot be assumed that communication automatically brings with it greater understanding and it may well be the case that terrorists (and sections of the State interested in the perpetuating of war that brings with it huge material wealth for a coterie deeply disinterested in peace) mould the basic technologies and frameworks of citizens journalism to spread hate and violence.Cognisant of the above, and yet interested in the subversive nature of citizen journalism to effect progressive conflict transformation in Sri Lanka through a space simply not available in other media, Groundviews – – was launched in December 2006 as the first tri-lingual citizen journalism initiative in the country.

Read More – First impressions

It was Sunanda Deshapriya who first alerted me to the existence of this new portal and having taken some time out (including registering myself) to check out the website, thought it was a good idea, terribly implemented.On the one hand, kudos to Wijeya for promoting a new media culture amongst journalists and citizens in Sri Lanka – even if, for the moment, the portal only operates in English (thereby alienating the majority of journalists and citizens who are only conversant in Sinhala and Tamil)…. There seem to be some serious blogs at a embryonic stage, rudimentary email features and a raft of other features that seem to have just been added in to populate the home-page with pretty icons, since there is really no uniform look and feel to the website, or way through which information can be exchanged between its many faces.If nothing else, this website shows that a home grown online community portal can be built even in light of sophisticated social networking websites such as Flickr, YouTube or MySpace.

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