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

Friday, November 16, 2007

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 .