“We need a media for excluded, unheard and under-represented,” Minister of Mass Media Gayantha Karunathilake at First National Community Video Summit 2016
Press Release, 25 April, 2016
Colombo: Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum
Within the globalized context, mainstream media has its own struggle and difficulties in catering all the segments in a country. As a result of this global reality, we have excluded communities, voiceless, unheard and underrepresented in Sri Lanka as well. Therefore, Sri Lanka needs a strong community video journalism as an alternative form of media to cater those excluded segments – said Mass Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka.
He noted the above, delivering a speech at the first National Community Video Summit, held on 24th of April at Sri Lanka Foundation, under the theme ‘Capturing Local Voices and Strengthening Democracy for Development’.
The summit was organized by Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum (SDJF) in conclusion of its three successful community video training programs implemented in partnership with Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture (PGIA), Prathiba Media Network-Matara, and American Cultural Corner – Kandy.
The summit brought together more than 200 independent video journalists including experts from mainstream media, development agencies, civil society organizations and academia to discuss the potentiality of Community Video as an alternative media to keep citizens informed, shape their perspectives, facilitate people participation in democratization, and help the citizens to play an active role in fostering wider justice and accountability.
The summit explored the fact that the independent video journalism has enormous potential, in the current socio, economical and political environment for the excluded segments to have a voice on issues affecting their societies.
Nicole A. Chulick, Counselor, Press, Cultural and Educational Affairs, Embassy of United States for Sri Lanka and Maldives and H.E.Shelly Whiting, High Commissioner of Canada in Sri Lanka also took part in the event.
Speaking further Minister of Mass Media Gayantha Karunathilake noted that Community video journalism as a substitute form of people’s media is produced by the community and for the community. It is used globally to promote conflict resolution, free expression, social and behavioral change, local knowledge, critical thinking, democratization and rural development.
He also noted that community video has the potential in bringing local stories on right-based concerns such as rights of women, children and migrants. It also helps the community members to reach out to policy makers.
It allows people to participate in media production. In community video journalism, people are the writers, editors, and producers. In a traditional media context, the audience is treated as customers, and consumers. But within community video journalism the audience is treated as stakeholders and active contributors. This kind of journalism increases the media literacy of the civil society as well – he added.
Nicole A. Chulick, Counselor, Press, Cultural and Educational Affairs for Sri Lanka and Maldives indicated that summit sounds a milestone in the field of video journalism promoting people voice in Sri Lanka. Community video journalism has enormous potential to strengthen the democratic institution in Sri Lanka.
The inaugural session was held under the theme ‘Voicing for the Unheard and Under-represented – Positioning Community Video’. This was chaired by Minelle Fernandez, Reporter, Al Jezeera. Jayantha Karunarathne, Head of Camera, Recoding and Lighting Division, ITN, Udaya Shan Idamegedera, News Manager, Siyatha FM & TV, T.M.G. Chandrasekara, Director – Research and Training, SLRC, Chaminda Karunarathne, Head of News, Swarnavahini, Sandaruwan Thilakarathne, Producer & Script Writer, Hiru TV and Shehan Baranage, Director – News and Current Affairs, TV Derana were the speakers of this session.
Necessity of independent video journalists being trained, need for community engagement in making media for the community, media ethics in community video journalism, capturing and disseminating right-based concerns through Community Video journalism, potential of community video in encouraging public participation, accountability and governance, and promoting political participation of people through community video were different topics discussed in the session.
The panelist expressed the need of community video journalism to have recognized by the government through policy. In chairing a session on Community Video – Making it a Media for People, Dr. Paradeep Weerasinghe noted ‘Community Media, particularly Community Video journalism needs a welcoming environment in Sri Lanka, and the Sri Lankan government is committed to create such an environment. Speaking further he added that mainstream media must not be seen as the only avenue to disseminate the video’s produced by community video journalists. However, it is important for the mainstream media to have a lot allocated for community voices.
Chaminda Karunarathne, Director News, Swarnavahini noted that Community Video journalists should be informed of understanding the role of a journalist in a context where the community he or she lives in crisis. He also emphasized issues around women, youth, children, and migrants can also be addressed using community video.
Dr. Raguram from the University of Jaffna raised a perspective that giving or taking employment opportunities should not be taken as a final destination of community video journalism. Community video journalism is something that should survive in the community as an integral part of it. It should come up in a time of need.
Speaking of this summit Prof. W. A. D. P. Wanigasundera, Chairperson of SDJF noted that the commercialization, globalization and politicization are threats for many mainstream media. And this is a global reality and not an issue specific to Sri Lanka alone. Within such a context we also need a media that could represent all segments of the community regardless of their diversity, and not treat people as just recipients, particularly women and children as not just victims.
Such a media should also be able to vividly capture the positives of the community and culture, build a united identity respecting diversity, and make people’s voice louder.
As a part of the summit Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum launched Sri Lanka’s first community video news website www.ivoice.lk.
During the post lunch session, SDJF announced the National Community Video Award winners. 10 National Community Video Awards were presented for those independent Video Journalists who took part in the National competition concluded last month.