SRI LANKA/INQUIRER AWARDS

Shining new light on investigative journalism in South Asia

Posted by David Quin

A ceremony to honour the winners of this year’s South Asia Inquirer Awards for investigative journalism marked an increased openness for news media in Sri Lanka.

The award ceremony was a public event in the historic Galle Face Hotel in the capital, Colombo – demonstrating a more relaxed attitude to media compared with last year’s private ceremony in the offices of the funder, the British High Commission.

Laura Davies, Britain’s deputy high commissioner for Sri Lanka and Maldives, told the winners it was a “real pleasure” to see that Sri Lanka had moved up 24 places up the World Press Freedom Index in 2016 to 141st out of 180 countries.

However she expressed “sadness” that controls on the press in the Maldives were becoming more restrictive.

 

The 2015 winners – all from Sri Lanka – were:

 

  • Print category: Nirmala Kannangara, of The Sunday Leader, for her investigation into loss of millions of rupees in aid destined for the development of a beach park project in the Hambanthota area under the previous government.
  • Radio category:Suresh Wijaya Rangana, of Neth FM, for a hard-hitting story on Wilpattu Wild Life Conservation Park being wantonly destroyed and cleared for political gains.
  • TV category: Thusitha Pitigala, of Action TV, for a story focusing on waste and misuse in a new scheme for school uniforms, which has forced many parents and students into purchasing inferior cloth whilst better material remained unallocated and went to waste.

 

The three were among more than 120 entries from Sri Lanka and The Maldives who took part in the 2016 Inquirer awards.

 

This year the project was able to involve regional media in Kandi, Galle and, for the first time, Jaffna, enabling a wider set of skills in investigative coverage.

David Quin, director of development, Thomson Foundation

 

The South Asia Inquirer Awards have been running since 2013 training over 300 reporters from print, radio, broadcast and online media in best-practice techniques in covering transparency and corruption issues, often in very testing circumstances. All entrants are supported via investigative reporting workshops, while winners are awarded with a fact-finding trip to London to visit British media organisations and government institutions.

This year the project was able to involve regional media in Kandi, Galle and, for the first time, Jaffna, enabling a wider set of skills in investigative coverage.

Restrictions on the press in Sri Lanka have eased since President Maithripala Sirisena was elected in January last year, ending autocratic rule by the Rajapaksa family.

Ms Davies said the British High Commission was pleased to support the awards as “freedom of expression is the freedom on which every other freedom is based”.

 

Inquirer Awards

The South Asia Inquirer Awards are run by Thomson Foundation in partnership with the Sri Lanka College of Journalism, and the Sri Lanka Press Institute.

David Quin

David Quin

Director of Development

About: David is in charge of sourcing and managing all donor-funded projects. He leads the foundation's largest ever project, the European Neighbourhood OPEN Media Hub.

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