World Press Freedom Day 2021
World Press Freedom Day 2021

World Press Freedom Index: Sri Lanka 127
Word Press Freedom Day 2021
Word Press Freedom Day 2021 © FNF Sri Lanka

Monday, 3rd of May marks the World Press Freedom Day. It goes back to the historic Windhoek Declaration for the development of a free, independent and pluralistic Press in 1991. Thirty years later the aim is to draw attention to the special role of journalism in producing news as verified information in the public interest, and to how this depends on a wider ecosystem that enables information as a public good.

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom wanted to find out how journalists in Sri Lanka see their role in 2021 in providing information as a  public good. In a panel discussion three representatives of the media discussed with Roel Raymond, Chief Editor from Roar Media, the challenges of a journalist to present a balanced and true story hearing and presenting the other side as well. To ensure fair reporting the Press Complaint Commission was set up in 1998 and works well till date. The question remains how such a regulation can be extended to online services.

Today journalists are under pressure to sell their story like a product as the media house, often part of a conglomerate, wants to make a profit and/or to please a political group.

Technology has changed the way media operates and there is now lots of competition from online services as well social media contributions which break news quite often first, so the media can only do background research to give news a different perspective.

One problem is that truth – exerberated by former president Trump - does not matter anymore and telling not the truth has no consequences. For the survival of a newspaper it is important to define what their readers want and provide them a good service. For that one needs trained and professionally working journalists, sound fact checking and a wider look at the news with a policy response.