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