At least one political party and many people have alleged or expressed suspicion that the popular news program “Sirasa News First” supports the LTTE terrorists.

Is there any truth in this?

An allegation as serious as this must be based on fact, not on mere suspicion.

There are several ways of investigating this ‘suspicion’.

One, very unwise way of investigation would be to question the News First editing team and the people they take orders from.
This approach is very unwise because this would be interpreted as a serious violation of media freedom.

There is a simpler and more effective approach, which does not violate media freedom yet would get the job done. I will describe this approach in part 2 of this topic, hopefully, tomorrow. But first, let me try to describe the context of this issue.

Sirasa TV is arguably the most popular TV channel in Sri Lanka.
And they, as a media channel, is, very good.
Good in the sense that they are very talented in what they do- not in the sense of moral goodness.

They are pioneers in the field and hence the most copied; they have an excellent team, and their brand marketing is superb.
They have captured the ladies with the likes of “Maha Gedara” and “Praveena”. They have captured the youth with programs such as “Sirasa Super Star”. To top it off they have a strong line-up of many other very popular programs, in Sinhala, English, and Tamil.

They are an indispensable part of the Sri Lankan people’s “infotainment mindscape”.
Without them Sri Lankan media would be very different.

Enter Sirasa News First.

Definitely a phenomenon to behold!
The news casters are excellent, presentation great, and the script like a finely edited drama.

And they do not lie, period.

In fact they are more truthful than the news programs of state controlled media.
Over the years, they have built a good reputation as an excellent news program.

What then is the problem?

The problem is that although they do not lie, unfortunately they do not tell the whole truth either.

News is a story, it is all in how you tell it.

They tell it well, in such a way that it aligns with some as yet undisclosed agenda of their own.
It is done so subtly and so artfully that without realizing it, the viewers’ thinking is gradually adjusted to whatever shape they want it to take.

This might look like speculation.
It is.
I will discuss how this speculation can be verified or negated in part 2 of this topic.

Of course the state media is and has been feeding the general population with what the government of the day wants them to see and hear.
But everybody already knows this and they always take the reporting of state media with a grain of salt.

But Sirasa TV is not state controlled. It is supposed to be independent.

If it does in fact, have a sinister pro-terrorist agenda- who is holding the strings?

If the President Mahinda Rajapakse holds the strings of Rupahavini and ITN, who is holding the strings of Sirasa News First?

I do not know about you, but I am seriously worried.

Read part 2 of this post

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