Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Defense Columns; for that Weekly Dose of War

For any one who get their hands on some local newspapers on a weekend, its nothing but an action packed drama unfolding. Of course I don’t know whether it’s something to be proud or not, but the content is set up just to thrill you off. The war which intensifies day by day in north and the terror attacks that have gripped Colombo have made the Defense reports quite interesting. Of course any regular internet user would be able to swfitly get the latest updates from various sites and defense blogs, but the masses most of the time depend heavily on these columns to get an analysis over the week's warfront situation. It all starts with the local version of “Early Edition” with all Sunday Sinhala medium newspapers being available form Saturday morning onwards.

Well, I am not a thorough reader since my enthusiastic thirst for dedicated reading simply started to decay after it was replaced by other interests. But the short breather I get during a Saturday morning hangover is mostly devoted for some news paper gazing. After a quick glance through the main page it’s straight into the defense column. The varying contrasts you can find on the local Sinhala and English medium newspapers on defense reporting are quite interesting. Of course the Sri Lankan press seems to be heartfully following one of the basic lessons in marketing, being Customer Oriented. This is one thing that the press seems to have perfected, at least on defense reporting. Why I say so is that most of the time the newspapers present the news in a way target readership would like to view regardless of how further it can be from the actual incident.

The Sinhala medium papers are all out against the tiger terrorists and one could hardly find any Blunders or a Diabolical committed from the warfront. Whether it be Lankaadeepa or Lakbima, everyone (at least the defense writers) seem to be reporting how great we did on the battlefront, no matter how politically motivated the paper is. This is in sharp contrast to their English medium counterparts, who some times seem to have a soft spot for Mr.Prabhakaran and the Tamil Rebels. For instance the defense reporters from Lankadeepa and Sunday Times, Sunil Jayasinghe and Ikbaal Athas seem to be having two varying and highly contrasting point of views over their analysis on what happened on that week though they are from the same publishing group; Wijaya News Papers.This trend i suppose is mainly to cater to the tastes of thier target audiences and to offer whtat they would like to see.

Iqbaal Athas according to my view is one of the best veteran defense reporters out there, we all know about his defense reporting and his first hand information which he claims to be getting from highly placed sources. So if you feel that some times tamilnet might be saying at least a bit of a truth then it might be the time that you get that week’s copy of Sunday Times as Athas’s defense column is straight and in your face about some of the blunders that may have happened in the battle front. But then again some of his reporting raises the highly debatable question of being responsible journalism. Well I am not here to judge the ethical aspect of defense reporting (which may be a topic for another post), but I’ve got to say the varying contrasts are further visible in some of the Sinhala newspapers also.

Defense reporters like Thissa Ravindra Perera from Rivira and Keerthi Warnakulasooriya from Divaina are most of the time hardlined and all out against terrorism. Though Thissa’s Column most of the time seem to be a bit exaggerated, one thing I hold high about the Divaiyna defense column is that it features some interesting attempts on investigative journalism.

The best defense column by far for me is the LakbimaNews defense column by Ranga Jayasooriya. His column is quite interesting to read, touches upon much smaller details and has an attractive narrative. He narrates many incidents such as smaller skirmishes and fierce encounters with first hand details. His criticisms are strong and to the point, and don’t seem raise much controversy as Iqbaal’s.

To finish of I must say that this post is just a pen down of my opinions on local defense columns and only have touched upon some of the papers that I get my hands into. Also not being literate in Tamil language has prevented me from citing those opinions. The war has reached its peaks; refugee crisis, terrorist attacks and Army’s advancement to the tiger hinterland have all made defense reporting more significant than ever before.


  1. well not much of an SL defence column reader myself. rely on TV news for that..but your right about the bias..mostly, if its not 100% peacenik its 100% warmongering.. so much for a neutral press eh

  2. Yeah I agree on you for a certain extent ....

  3. Hmmm... we don't really have a dedicated 'defence' column in any of our leading newspapers, just the regular City, National, International, Business, and Sports pages. The feature oones are the front and editorial pages.

    Another thing is that here viewpoints differ with politics, not with who subscribes to your view.