By nature, the Sri Lankan media is highly polarised in many fronts – specifically on ethnic and political lines. Nevertheless, the SLPI functions as the centre of networking and gathering for diverse media. It was the uniting force for all sections of the media influencing and facilitating them to engage in discussions and deliberations. It also functions as the bridge between civil society and the media through various projects and activities during the year.
As a result, society witnessed a change in the culture of journalism – more professional reporting, better layouts, good photojournalism, more diverse content, and professional visuals on television. These were the direct impact that the SLPI intended through its motto – change from within – mainly through its training activities. The feedbacks from newsrooms and media houses were encouraging.
In the advocacy front, the SLPI was either instrumental or a key party to block some efforts by the government to curtail media freedom – censorship, and re-introducing the Press Council etc. The Institute is the place of gathering, networking and the key facilitator for all these advocacy activities.
The society witnessed a higher degree of self regulations in the media due to the awareness activities of the PCCSL, mainly among the media and civil society. The newspapers were honouring the ‘right to reply’ concept – a new phenomenon to the 130-year old Sri Lankan print industry – and the journalists were adopting more ethical approaches in their writings.
Most importantly, the Sri Lankan journalists who were under threat from many fronts were relieved with the establishment of a better – structured frame of safety work through the Safety Fund. This was a role model for many other activist organizations and it attracted the attention of many donors and funding agencies.
Partnership with FOJO
(The Institute for Further Education of Journalists – Sweden)
Fojo has been a valuable partner in establishing the SLPI and its tedious institutional building efforts. With the ambition of creating a leading media development institution in Sri Lanka that is entirely run by Sri Lankan media personnel, Fojo acted as a consultant and also as an institutional partner to SLPI.