Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sri Lankan media worse than judiciary – Victor Ivan

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Having castigated the Sri Lankan judiciary, founding editor of Ravaya Victor Ivan yesterday alleged that the media was even worse.

Victor Ivan said a vast section of the media had pathetically failed to deliver.

Claiming that nothing could be expected of them, the onetime JVP front liner stressed that it would be the responsibility of journalists to make a difference.

The former Ravaya editor was delivering a lecture to students of journalism at the Government Information Department. Among those present at the event organised by Sri Lanka Press Council were University students.

Victor Ivan called for tangible measures to clean up the media field.

Ivan said though he had been severely critical of high and mighty he had never been slapped or blasted. He claimed that though, Ravaya had, under his editorship, mercilessly attacked some of the most influential persons, the paper always followed a code of ethics in respect of reportage of controversial matters. A case in point was the constant coverage of a case involving one-time Magistrate accused of raping a woman subjected to court proceedings at Maho and its alleged cover-up involving at that time the highest in the judiciary.

Ivan explained the difficulties experienced by Ravaya and especially him as he battled the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s administration which resolutely protected the guilty.

Naming the Magistrate allegedly involved in the rape of the woman, the former Ravaya editor said that his investigations had revealed that the judge had been earlier kicked out of Sri Lanka Insurance for a major financial fraud.

Ivan quoted the then Justice Minister as having told him that he was powerless as the person targeted by Ravaya happened to be a close associate of the powers that be.

Emphasizing the importance of pursuing a good story regardless of difficulties, Ivan said that it had been one of the three real investigative stories carried by Ravaya since its inception.

Ivan categorised revelation of a retired senior police officer raping a 12-year-old domestic aide and a young and popular actor raping a teenager being the other investigative stories.

Ivan said that a section of the media, both here and abroad, had an extremely bad habit of claiming credit for thorough investigations done by others. A section of the print media carried reports totally based on information obtained by government agencies or others. Such reports couldn’t be considered genuine investigative reports, he said.

Ivan referred to the Pentagon Papers which dealt with US campaign in Vietnam and Watergate, apolitical scandal in the 1970s consequent to the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington DC.

He said the Watergate expose had reflected true investigative journalism whereas the Pentagon Papers were dossier prepared by the US.

Ivan compared the conduct of US and Sri Lankan presidents asserting that major difference could be financial irregularities committed here.

In the West, investigative journalists wouldn’t face death at the hands of those offended by their revelation though the situation here was different, he said. The journalist said one of his associates had recently told him that they could still have faith in Sri Lanka because Victor Ivan had survived after going after so many influential persons.

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