Candles werelit and a minute silence was observed to pay tribute to the colleagues who have paid the price for journalism

The Public Service Journalism Awards 2007 was much-awaited event among the provincial journalists in Sri Lanka. The glamorous event was held on November 16 th 2007 at the Galle Face Hotel.

Last year 521 applications were received for the awards. There were 748 applications received for this year’s awards. Applications were received from all nine provinces - North, East, West, South, Central, Uva, Sabaragamuwa, North Western, and North Central.

Apart from Public Service Journalism Awards, awards were also presented for tolerance. Awards for tolerance were presented for the first time in Sri Lanka. Public Service Journalism Awards ceremony is a landmark event in the history of Sri Lankan media. The initiative is appreciated by the journalists, and activists, which encourages the provincial journalists.

Seremdi Adi troupe was introduced at the event to understand and respect ethnic diversity. Cartoon depicting media freedom which appeared in Sinhala, Tamil and English were displayed at the venue, and caught the attention of the attendees.

The event was organized by the Centre for Policy Alternatives with the support of the Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, Federation of Media Employees Trade Union, Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance and Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum with the collaboration of International Federation of Journalists.

The Public Service Journalism Awards was inaugurated in 2006.

The awards night began with the beat of the drums

Near a sign directing towards Jaffna, A civilian: “Oh no, it looks like the war has erupted” Another civilian: “Dont you know….it’s Journalists from Colombo proceeding”

N. Parameshwaran, journalist from Jaffna received his award from the Editor of Maubima newspaper Kuruvita Banda. He was awarded the first place in Public Journalism for writing a piece on the shortage of milk powder in Jaffna peninsula.

C.Ranasinghe, Medigiriya provincial journalists of Lankadeepa received his award from the News Editor of Sunday Thinakkural R. Bharathy

The Public Service Journalism Awards Ceremony is held to encourage the provincial journalists

The winner of Western Province B. L. D. Nandasiri, Moratuw area journalist of Lakbima received his award from the Director of Sri Lanka Press Institute Ranga Kalansooriya

Media personnels covering the event

Ajith Vasantha Yapa, journalist of Uva Community Radio, received his award from the Chief Editor of Young Asia Television Mrs. Sharmini Boyle

Comedy item by Wijaya Nandasiri and Rodney Warnakula

"The journalists in Sri Lanka are still courageous amidst the current situation in the country" commended a Western journalist recently.

V. T. Sagathevarajah, Amapara area journalist of Virakesari received his award from the Editor of the Sunday Virakesari P.Devaraj

Ranjith Jayasundara, Vavuniya area journalist of the Lankadeepa received his award for tolerance in Northern Province from the Chairperson of the Neelan Thiruchelavam Trust Mrs. Sithy Thiruchelvam

Audeince at the event

Radhika Devakumar, journalist from Pirai FM in Batticaloa received her award from the Consultant of Centre for Policy Alternatives Dr.Devanesan Nesaiah. She was awarded National Tolenrance Prize. She was also awarded an award for tolerance in Easterne Province

Seremdi Adi troupe performed and African fusion. Their forefathers were from Africa, and the current generation is living in North Western Province

The National Winner of the Public Service Journalism 2007 was Premalal Wijesinghe of the Kandurata Radio. He received his award from International Federation of Journalists Asia Pacific Director Jacqueline Park

Public Service Journalism promotes journalists who strive to adhere public service values in their journalistic practice

National Winner of the Public Service Journalism Awrads 2007 Premalal Wijesinghe of the Kandurata Radio was greeted by the convener of the Free Media Movement Sunanda Deshapriya

Group photo of the winners

Journalists in Sri Lanka have united and decided to voice together against the suppression of media freedom

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Jury Report of Public Service Journalism 2007

Last year the number of applications for these awards was 521 and this year the receipt of 748 entries is noted as a considerably positive development. Four Provinces contributed more than a hundred entries each, namely Southern Province 134, Sabaragamuwa 123, Eastern province 111 and Central 105.

The lowest number of applications, that is 36, was from the Northern Province. It is the observation of the Jury that this is because of the various acts of threats and intimidation carried out by armed groups has resulted in a deep fear psychosis existing in this area. As a result most people are afraid to speak out in public and therefore the lives of journalists wishing to produce stories with proper sourcing has become extremely difficult. Also many journalists have left the profession, or fled the country or sought refuge underground.

In linguistic terms the largest number of applications was in the Sinhala Language, where there were 584 entries and the number of Tamil language entries was 160. Out of these 60 were from the East while the North contributed only 14. It is with regret we note that there were only 4 English language entries reflecting the fact that the English media does not pay much attention to Provincial reporting.

There were 54 entries from women journalists, but all of them came from a group of 14.

There were 9 Television entries and 71 Radio entries with the vast majority of 668 applications from the print media.

The consensus in the jury is that generally the entries did not reach a very high standard. However there was a genuine attempt at public service and we did not observe a serious breach of ethics in any of the entries.

When considering Print media entries the jury decided to ignore headlines that were in the articles as we assumed the headlines were the work of sub-editors at the desk and not put in there by the applicant. We wish to note this as there were instances when the headlines clearly violated media ethics.

The jury also noted that the different media, Radio, Television and Print had varying impacts, and therefore recommends that the organisers award different awards in these categories at the next award ceremony.

It is also agreed that the organisers should publicise the criteria on which the marks were awarded.

Anoma Rajakaruna
Arjuna Ranawana
Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai
Sanath Balasuriya
N.M. Ameen
Uvindu Kurukulasooriya

Friday, November 16, 2007



1 Ajith Wasantha Epa

2 Samarakoon Bandara

3 Sujeewa I.Kumari


1 Premalal Wijesinghe

2 Nimal Bogahawatta

3 Asela Kuruluwansa

North Central

1 C.Ranasinghe

2 Sarath Manula Wickrama

3 Karunaratne Gamage


1 B.L.D.Nandasiri

2 Vineetha Manel Gamage

3 S.Madawala


1 Sajeewa Wijeweera

2 S.A.R.Mathangaweera

3 Lalith Chaminda

North Western

1 Sunil S.Pellandeniya

2 Sunil Kahagalla

3 Hiran Priyankara


1 N.H.Piyasena

2 Nimal Abeysinghe

3 U.R.A.Bandara


1 N.Parameshwaran

2 Suneetha Gamage

3 N.Nawaratnerasa


1 Thilak Alahakoon

2 V.R.Sagadevarajah

3 Mangalanath Liyanarachchi



Central - Premalal Wijesinghe

North Central - Sarath Manulawickrama

Western -

Southern - Dhammika Ranaweera

North Western - Sunil Kahagalla

Sabaragamuwa -

Northern - Ranjith Jayasundara

Eastern - Radhika Devakumar



1 Premalal Wijesinghe

2 Thilak Alahakoon

3 Sunil Pellandeniya


Radhika Devakumar

Speech by Jacqueline Park, Director, Asia-Pacific, International Federation of Journalists, Colombo, Sri Lanka

It is a great pleasure to be here again for Sri Lanka's second Public Service Journalism Awards to recognize the important and valuable work of provincial journalists.

These awards are all about promoting, recognizing and consolidating public service journalism in Sri Lanka -- that is, good journalism.

Good journalism ensures that ordinary people get the information they need to make critical judgments and decisions, to plan and live their lives with knowledge and awareness.

Good journalism is free, independent, critical, courageous, trustworthy, reliable and enlightening.

It promotes respect and dialogue. And it represents diverse cultures, points of view and interests.

Good journalism should be serious and hard-hitting, especially in times of political turmoil, conflict and natural disasters.

But the need for hard-hitting journalism doesn't mean that we, as journalists, should not seek also to entertain people – through satire, comedy, stories of optimism, small successes.

Journalists outside Colombo are at greatest risk as violence escalates. They have less security and are more vulnerable to violence from all sides. On top of this they receive less support, resources and pay from their employers.

This was highlighted in a recently released report of a fact-finding mission by the IFJ, the International Press Institute and the FMM to the Eastern Province.

It stresses that journalists there work in unsafe conditions, have weak job security, restrictions on their movements and suffer extreme ethnic prejudice and partisan tensions.

Further, many journalists expressed their concern that Sri Lanka's wider national public is being kept in the dark about vital issues in the provinces.

These awards can help to resolve this by drawing national attention to the important work of journalists reporting from the provinces.

This reveals an admirable dedication and commitment to getting information out, to make sure people know and understand what's happening. --- It is all public service and commitment to community.

These awards are a significant symbol of solidarity among Sri Lanka's five professional journalists' associations.

The renewed strength of the Working Journalists Association. The important collective trade union action of the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions in defending the rights of all media workers. The vital work of the Free Media Movement defending and extending press freedom. The work of the Tamil and Muslim organizations in advancing rights of journalists from minority communities. Together they have made a commitment to good journalism and to support their colleagues outside Colombo.

This alliance, supported by the IFJ and based on the historic media charter signed by all groups in 2005, has ensured the media community is well placed to deal with the terrible challenges to press freedom, censorship and safety that we have seen with the return to war.

As we see in the film that will follow -- Many journalists can count their blessings to have received the security and support of their colleagues when they needed it.

Another important success of this alliance is the creation of a national network of journalists in the provinces.

The IFJ has been proud to be part of this important work and particularly to see and share it's success tonight.

Recently the IFJ has been working with journalists community on the challenge we face as journalists when human rights are under threat.

Journalists have a duty to examine and reveal the state of their societies. An important test of a well functioning society is the status of human rights – are they upheld or are they violated?

Do all members of the society enjoy their rights equally – children, young people, women and men, different ethnic groups?

We all have the right to freedom of thought and expression but this right commonly does not exist where human rights in general are widely abused. And journalists have a right to be protected in the conduct of their work.

Rights give journalists objective criteria by which to judge the performance of governments and those who hold power in society.

Getting it right is vital. That is why the IFJ is joining with the journalists organizations to launch the Human Rights journalism prize for the whole media community. Supported by the European Commission, the first prize will be given next year.

We still have a long way to go in implementing and entrenching the principles of public service journalism across all media in Sri Lanka.

But positive change is indeed occurring and we can be proud of what we are achieving and setting in place for future generations of journalists.

Without the solidarity achieved and strengthened in these past few years these times could be much darker.

This is the case for journalists and media workers across the world – we need to work together not only within our countries, but regionally and internationally.

[The current situation in Pakistan exemplifies the importance of strong networks of trades unions and professional associations working together at all levels – community, provincial, national, regionally and internationally – to defend the right to free expression, to promote democracy and transparency, and to improve the quality and impacts of our journalism. This is the driving force of the International Federation of Journalists as a global voice of journalists.]

This same solidarity also factors into the noticeable improvement in the quality of reporting across Sri Lanka – as especially highlighted by these awards. This year has seen 750 entries and a record number of women shortlisted for the awards. For this the journalists organizations must be congratulated. I have had the pleasure to observe over the last few days the tremendous public spirit and community among the journalists as they have worked madly to bring these awards and this event tonight together.

And to the editors that have backed the awards, thank you. Thanks also to CPA for their continued support and to USAID for their generous financial support.

Higher quality of reportage is a concrete outcome of greater professionalism.

That is, more and more we can see the principles of public service journalism in practice, strengthening our profession and strengthening our communities.

Tonight's awards are a part of that process. They reward the dedication and work of provincial journalists and recognise the real-world value and impacts that high-quality reporting can and does have on the lives of ordinary people.

Congratulations to you all.

Speech by Dr.Devanesan Nesiah

I am privileged to participate in today's celebration of public service journalism. This is the second year of these celebrations, and I am happy that this year there are special prizes for journalists of every part of our Island who promote tolerance as well as other public service values.

I was a public servant for 36 years, of which a third was spent out of Colombo, a few months in Kandy, 2 years in Badulla and 3 years each in Mannar, Batticaloa and Jaffna. Political leaders and public servants in every district should be aware of the needs and aspirations of the public, and the public should be aware of the plans and programs of the state. Journalists have a critical role in developing and promoting such mutual awareness and understanding. Journalists have also a key role in ensuring that public resources are put to optimum use for the benefit of the public. They need to promote public service values and to expose corruption. In today's context, diversity and tolerance are most important, and for this reason that I am happy that this is reflected in the scheme of awards this year.

I am also happy that we began proceedings by saluting the brave journalists who have been killed or otherwise harmed for upholding public service values, tolerance and diversity. We often forget that journalism is not only a noble profession but is also one that requires great courage and commitment. It gives me much satisfaction that the Centre for Policy Alternatives, which is the institution to which I am affiliated, in cooperation with concerned associations of journalists has successfully organized these celebrations.

I thank all of you for your patient hearing and for the privilege afforded to me to address you and to handover to the prize winner the National Level Tolerance Award

Welcome speech-By Sunanda Deshapriya

Public service journalism prize - 16th Nov 2007:

Distinguished invitees, friends, colleagues,

Good evening and we warmly well come all of you to this event. We promise you that this is going to be a memorable evening.

Today is a happy day for all of us. And we all feel proud. Why you may ask? It is because we have been able to organise the national public services media journalism awards for provincial journalists from across the country.

Our aim in this awards ceremony is simple. We want to promote and recognise professional journalism. We want to strengthen our efforts in promoting public service values in journalism.

We visited journalists in every district in Sri Lanka in launching this programme, though we are sad that we could not reach Killinochchi and Mullativu in this endeavour for unavoidable circumstances I am sure you can all imagine.

As you know this programme is organized by 5 major journalist's organisations in this country. There are the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, The Federation of Media Employees Trade Union, the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance, the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum and the Free Media Movement.

Last year the Canadian International Development Agency and AusAID supported this programme.

This year USAID supported us. We are happy to say there were no conditions attached. The Centre for Policy Alternatives like last year was instrumental in obtaining the support and administrating the programme. The Media Unit in particular shouldered this whole programme from the day one as one.

The International Federation of Journalists, which is our international partner in this endeavour, played an invaluable advisory role, again like last year.

Without all this support our organizations would not be able to organizes this event. Dear friends, lets give all of them a warm applause for their invaluable support to this awards programme.

Journalists from all over the country sent entries and entered the contest in earnest. There were 760 entries. Our judging panel spent a whole week to select the best among them. There were serious debates to see how we judge an entry. If we look at the time they spent it easily passed 50 working days for the selection of the short listed candidates from all the entries received.

The judges were very pleased to note both the increase in entries to the prize programme and more importantly, the increase in the standard of entries received in comparison to last year. The increase in numbers and quality demonstrate that PSB values are taking root in journalism in Sri Lanka. Beyond this awards programme, this is something we should all celebrate and encourage the further development of.

Our provincial journalists are the group who really held key to this success. They organised workshops and sent entries they make this programme a success. We salute them and the judging panel for their commitment to make this awards programme reality.

Lets give all of them a resounding round of applause.

We all enjoyed implementing this awards programme. It was learning process for all of us.

Friends enjoy the evening, this is your evening .