Friday, September 18, 2009

The Fourth Estate: Licensed to do what exactly?

the fourth estate, also known as the free press, has long been the bane of all despots and dictators and many a democratic leader. it is a miracle that not many leaders have been caught saying "i would love to strangle one of those bastards".

that being said, let's examine the reasons for the media is loved, hated and spit upon... all at the same time; no small feat.

lets take the Indian media in their recently increased aggressive rhetoric against China. talking about the chinese media is worthless as it is decidedly not independent (interesting to note; it was a measured response by the chinese polity in response to the indians). the indians it seems are harping on about how much better india is etc etc and trying to whip up public fervor against the chinese. to what end all analysts are at a loss to explain. they are trade partners, the leaders have expressed nothing of the sort, in fact the leaders have responded to their own media basically telling them to shut up and sit down.

take the american recession. i gurantee you that if the media had been more reserved or circumspect in how they reported the news, the recession would not have been as bad. it might have even recovered sooner. not to mention financial reporter/jackasses like jim cramer who promoted bear stearns until the day before they went bust.

even now, in the US, the media (liberal and conservative) shamelessly sensationalize small items that arenot even worthy of respect and giving movements like the birthers and czarists legs.

while i do am not advocating censorship, i am exhorting responsibility in reporting news. use your mmind to report and if you are unsure, hold back to make sure. THAT's the job Channel 4.

If you are operating in a tough place like Zimbabwe or Iraq, guess what. the usual rules don't apply. they will catch you and toss you in what they call jail and you might call hellhole. that too is the job. my respect goes out to the likes of people like Daniel Perl and Lasantha Wickremetunge who died doing their job. no one can fault Lasantha of the monumental mistakes made by the likes of J. S. Tissainayagam or the so called Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka. that why he was killed; the truth was his weapon and there is never a defense against the truth. thats why J. S Tissainayagam is in jail - he was not reporting the truth. if he did, he would be dead.

i think i lost my train of thought somewhere along there. but the fact of the matter is, the media is shaping public policy and therefore foreign, defense and domestic policy of the government. they report what they do in such a way that an opinion is already presented to the reader with no attempt at impartiality. they play with lives and countries and they always hide behind the badge of 'Journalist'.

a british special forces soldier died in a mission to rescue a kidnapped new york times reporter and his interpreter in Afghanistan. the interpreter was killed during the mission as well. Journalists all over the world has called for an investigation into the conduct of the unit. i don't hear a call by the journalists for a discussion on the topic with the taleban. (dogs only bark and growl at those who pay attention)

the soldiers were doing their job and saved one journalists. now the journalists want blood for the one that could not be saved. you be the judge of that particular motion by 'journalists'.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tissainayagam: The Writings

i have been scouring the net and asking everyone who follows the case for a copy or link to the publications made by Mr. Tissainayagam which caused the current situation.
unfortunately, i have not been able to find an electronic copy of the the article(s) in it's/their entirety but found a reproduction of the court documents on The Sunday Leader provides a few leads.
click here for the article in The Leader.
to summarize, he is accused of;
  • receiving and remitting money to and from terrorists (the account in question was the account number for the magazine (North Eastern Monthly published by Rennaissance Publications Ltd.) that was printed with the magazine for readers/subscribers to remit money in advance)
  • mintaining communications with terrorists(identified as one K. Gnanakuma in Killinochchi)
  • writing and publishing articles critical of the government and security forces designed to incite communal violence. to this end, the following passages were highlighted;

“Providing security to Tamils now will define northeastern politics of the future”

“It is fairly obvious that the government is not going to offer them any protection. In fact it is the state security forces that are the main perpetrators of the killings”

“with no military options the government buys him by offering watered down devolution”

“Such offensives against the civilians are accompanied by attempts to starve the population by refusing them food as well as medicines and fuel with the hope of driving out the people of Vaharai and de-populating it. As this story is been written Vaharai is been subject to intense shelling and aerial bombardment,”

while any writing when taken out of context can be twisted to sound sinister, the exact wording of these phrases with the references to specific locations and actions remove the generalities that allows nuanced inference.

as a voracious follower of the war effort, devouring any and all news items and tid-bits in addition to first hand information from the front lines, i never came across any 'press releases' that indicated "intense shelling and bombardment" during the Vaharai phase (but i do expect it may have happened). i do remember the LTTE launching a barrage of pre-sighted artillery on the lines our boys captured and seeing the pictures displayed on tamilnet.

that being said, all sides in a conflict engage in propoganda. i do not buy the canned releases from the government nor do i pay any attention to tamilnet. however, the law was made clear that any war reporting outside of the parameters set by the Medica Center for National Security will be dealt with. Iqbal Athas of the Sunday Times and Amantha Perera of the Sunday Leader stopped their defence correspondence (one assumes due to the futility of repeating the MCNS line).

i am not well versed in law, that's why we have judges and lawyers. they came to a conclusion that Mr. Tissainayagam is guilty. it is not for me to decide whether he merits a presidential pardon or not as quite honestly, the president can do as he damn well pleases.

i would like to ask that once found guilty, why should a journalist (or any other member of society) be treated differently based on ones profession? (that it happens due to political connections etc. is not the topic here).

draconian they may be, but the prevention of terrorism act was put together, voted on and continued by the people that everyone voted in. to change the laws, change the idiots you send to parliament. only you can do that.

in another context, what Mr. Tissainayagam did would be considered treason for which the standard sentence (recognized by the Geneva conventions) is summary execution. he is receiving treatment that has been denied for every journalist that has died. the latest and greatest of which is Lasantha Wickrematunge. i have no love for his politics, but i do admire his passion and courage and mourn his passing. who made noise for him? who makes noise for him?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tissainayagam: The Plight and Pitfalls

20 years of hard labor is a stiff sentence by any standard. it's usually reserved for murderers and their ilk. not for journalists for any writing they put forth.
that being said, the issue of what has happened is two fold. on one hand, it's the protection of freedom of speech and all the rest. on the other hand it is respect for the judicial process of a country, whatever the perceived flaws may be.
all and sundry can scream and bleat and shout and say its' not fair what happened to Tissainayagam. Fact remains, it has happened after due process of law (however it exists in the land). The root solution is to change the adminstration of the judiciary and THAT is in the hands of the voters and NOT the polity. THE PEOPLE give the power, so why whine now?
As for all the western countries that are bleating blue murder, they can kindly go and stick it.
where the sun does not shine. Sri Lanka does not pass judgment or opinion in any capacity (save the armchair sages) on the domesic processes of those countries. the treatment they mete out to
Sri Lanka may very well change that attidue. however, us being a small country, big deal it may not be.
They being democracies always cry for due process which has been carried out. so shut it.
As for mr. Tissainayagam, I have this to say. I will fight and defend your right to speak the truth. that does not mean I will agree with everything you have to say. however, in this particular case, you have insulted a statesmen of high valor and his admirers when you call him a traitor.
as for what you published, right or wrong the content may have been if you knowingly and willingly violated the law of the land (draconian it may be, but again a question for the polity) you sir are at fault and I expect you own up to the fact and accept your sentence.
For the people who don't like what has happened; it's in your hands to make the change you want happen by voicing your opinion at the ballot box.
For the people who thing all journalists must be hanged; its journalists now, what if it's you tomorrow?
Be the change you want to see.