The NCTJ has been assisting the media in Sri Lanka with an ambitious milestone project to introduce a professional qualification for their journalists.
Most of the media houses have come together under the leadership of the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) to support the qualification’s development. The SLPI was established by the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka, the Editors Guild of Sri Lanka, the Free Media Movement, and the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association, to provide direction and leadership in media-related activities. This includes the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka (PCCSL) and the Sri Lanka College of Journalism (SLCJ), the training arm focusing on skills development for the journalistic profession. Overall, the mandate of the Sri Lanka Press Institute is to create a professional body of journalists who are responsible and accountable to the public.
There is a clear vision to raise journalism standards as well as increase recognition for journalists by the SLPI and the NCTJ has been more than happy to assist them in any way possible.
As well as advising on the objectives, curriculum, assessments and infrastructure, the NCTJ’s assistance has involved public relations meetings with the Minister for Media and Norwegian Embassy diplomats. Agencies in Norway, Denmark and Sweden have shown astonishing generosity in supporting Sri Lanka’s quest for peace, democracy, human rights and sustainable economic development. The Fojo Media Institute in Sweden has funded the NCTJ’s involvement in the qualification initiative.
Meeting with Sri Lankan Media Minister
From left: Joanne Butcher; Hon. Keheliya Rambukwelle, Minister of Mass Media and Information; Imran Furkan (chief executive, SLPI); and J P A Jayawardena (private secretary to media minister)
To gain the qualification, journalists will have at least three years of journalism experience and must pass seven mandatory subjects and five electives as well as a logbook. It combines many of the requirements of NCTJ qualifications as well as modules specific to the Sri Lanka media market place.
The project is particularly ambitious when viewed against the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s recent struggle for media freedom. Those who want the full picture would do well to read Rajiv Weerasundera’s excellent book, “The Other War”, published last year charting the hazards of journalism in a decade of legal, constitutional and political intrigue. At the heart of the action is Sinha Ratnatunga, who remains editor of The Sunday Times and a Director of SLPI, PCCSL and SLCJ.
The Press Institute, which houses the Press Complaints Commission and the College of Journalism, continues to campaign on press freedom issues and is advocating a new regulatory code for broadcast media. The Institute organised a lively debate on the role of women in the media on 20 January to mark the publication of its gender study. The full report can be read here.
Joanne addressing the audience
From left: Shehan Baranage (Head of News and Current Affairs – Derana); Hanna Ibrahim (Editor of Ceylon Today); Kumar Nadesan (Chairman of SLPI and PCCSL-Moderator); Joanne Butcher (NCTJ); and Chethana Liyanage (Manager-Training & Development of the Capital Maharaja Organization)
Joanne Butcher, NCTJ chief executive