Thursday, February 14, 2013

Only in SL – MR arrests and MR orders their release to make a media event in his favor

Two days after promising the parents of the Jaffna University students who had been unlawfully arrested that they would be released, the President fulfilled that promise by releasing these two students from Vavuniya where they had been held.

MR got maximum media mileage out of it with no media criticizing his initial policy of taking them into custody in the first place and pointing out the irony of how the man who put them behind bars gets credit for opening the bars and letting them out as if it was a pardon.

It is this sort of blatant media manipulation which is giving the Sri Lanka media a very bad name and if I were a journalist will be embarrassed to work on any paper that does not inform the public of the circumstances of the imprisonment and the release both at the same time for the reader to appreciate the nature of the incident and for him alone to determine who should share the plaudits or the blame or both.

It is important that we educate readers to make up their minds, and to permit the media to be more objective in their reports, without being slavishly sycophantic to a line that borders on threats and intimidations on the media to say it as is the myth of the regime rather than the reality of a reasonable person viewing the incident.

The manipulation of the media is a very common theme in dictatorships, but it is up to the individual newspaper to use their journalist to at least subtly inform their readership of the facts in order for an intelligent and objective assessment to be made of the events.

Incidents that are stage managed and even the timing orchestrated, are now part and parcel of daily life in Sri Lanka. It is important that we bloggers put the record straight on what is happening in the mind games department on how people’s opinions are influenced.

It is then up to the reader to take the side which they wish from their experience and evaluation of the facts. Education is not something that can be done overnight, but getting people to think about what takes place around them, and the influences that people in power have over their lives will make for a better understanding of the undercurrents of society. It is this society that we live in and it is this society that will in future bring leaders who care for the country and make decisions not out of personal motives, but on motives that are far removed with the nation’s long term interests at heart. We wish for the day we may have such a leader.

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