Call girls and call boys of Fourth Estate - Media Maffia

One day an elderly elephant heard a strange noise and he summoned his two sons. `Go look what`s on!` he said. The two calves went whence the noise had come and found two hunters wending their way through. They ran back to their father panting. `Papa,` one calf said with the other agreeing, `forty hunters are coming!` The elephant family ran for dear life.

Now the question: Why did the calf say there were forty hunters, whereas there were, in fact, only two of them'

Well, we don`t want to keep you guessing. The answer is: The calf was a liar! Then why on earth did the other one repeat that lie' Well, it was very weak in arithmetic.

Replace the first calf with LTTE propagandists and the other with the foreign press, and then you have a better picture of the international media coverage of the air strikes on LTTE targets in Sampur the other day. The LTTE said 40,000 people were fleeing and some of the Colombo based foreign journalists swallowed the lie, hook line and sinker. They lost no time in disseminating the Goebbelsian lie across the globe. What they didn`t realise was that Sampur has only a population of 16,000!

Let it be added immediately that our sympathy is with those civilians who were harmed and displaced for no fault of theirs, regardless of their numbers. War is hell as we have been saying repeatedly in these columns and it must be avoided. That`s why the LTTE, which is all out to thrust war on the state, must be stopped in its tracks.

In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, when the entire world rushed to our help, BBC had the audacity to interview an LTTE sympathiser who said when the killer waves came pummelling everything on their way, he had first thought the SLAF aircraft were bombing his area. `You know they usually bomb churches and schools,` he said to a seemingly dumb interviewer of BBC, which boasts of Hard Talk. All what a discerning listener gathered was that BBC couldn`t find someone, for an interview, who knew waves from bombers.

We don`t fault BBC as a whole for broadcasting such mistruths, half-truths, untruths and diabolical lies. It is like setting a bus on fire because of an errant driver who runs over a pedestrian. We blame its correspondents and programme directors who are behaving in a manner suggestive of hubris and chutzpah and wonder why such irresponsible swashbucklers are allowed to cover matters that are sensitive and have the potential to set a conflict-torn country on fire. And those worthies are trying to teach responsible journalism to their Sri Lankan counterparts. We would rather learn honesty from a fraud or chastity from a whore than journalism from them.

Some of those potentates are actively engaged in politics and functioning as propagandists of some political leaders in this country. Unless the leaders of their choice come to power, they vilify the successful others and paint Sri Lanka raven black. There are, of course, true professionals among them'and we raise our editorial hat to those ladies and gentlemen who have done their profession proud!'but the sordid operations of some among them have tarnished their image as well. All it takes to spoil a pot of milk is a little bit of cow dung! (Etymologically speaking, the word `dung` has a Celtic origin!)

Those know-alls in the garb of foreign correspondents peddling not-so-hidden agendas are no better than carrion crows trailing hyenas in the bush looking for carcasses and corpses. They are blind to anything positive about the country where they work. They have mistaken their mission here for heightening the conflict by lionising Tigers. BBC once produced a documentary on Black Tigers and the only purpose it served was to project those mind-erased killing machines as heroes. But it didn`t show the faces of even Sinn Fein leaders until they mellowed their stance. A CNN correspondent once tried to `balance` a story on child combatants saying that both the LTTE and the government recruited child soldiers!

One may wonder whether the brand of journalism that some foreign correspondents practise is an extension of the foreign policy of their respective countries. For example, the international terror network of the LTTE is coordinated by a British citizen from London'Anton Balasingham is his name. The British government does sweet little or nothing about his operations and permits even celebrations of terrorist events on the British soil, where the outfit is (nominally') banned. During the tsunami disaster the British Navy took an LTTE leader to one of its warships off the eastern coast! Later the British claimed they didn`t know he was an LTTE leader. Poor British intelligence! BBC appears to be following the same policy towards the LTTE, which is on a campaign to divide a Commonwealth nation.

The World Press Freedom Day is being commemorated in Colombo on a grand scale. The press must have unbridled freedom the world over and no stone should be left unturned in our efforts to achieve that noble goal. But freedom sans responsibility, like power without control, means disaster. Hence the need for holding the journalistic call girls (and call boys)'irrespective of the colour of their skin'at bay without letting them bring the noble profession of journalism to the same level as the oldest profession in the world. The sooner it is done, the better it is for the genuine practitioners.

With rancour and malice towards none!

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