Sri Lanka: Journalists organizations adopt new approaches for professional growth in digital era21 Oct, 2022
A series of programmes were successfully concluded recently to enhance professionalism of the media industry in Sri Lanka and focus attention on the professional rights of journalists in Sri Lanka. This was carried out by the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, FMETU, with the guidance and support of the International Federation of Journalists, IFJ, through the IFJ Union to Union project, 2022.
The key objective of this programme was to empower young journalists to understand their professional rights and responsibilities and function effectively in the digital era. The FMETU supported young journalists from all the provinces in Sri Lanka to identify the challenges that they are faced with in practicing their profession, especially in relation to organizing themselves as a collective body through unionism. The journalists was guided to look at practical and creative ways to overcome these challenges.
FMETU maintains that in the context of the digital era, media organizations are obliged to equip young journalists with modern skills to enter the media industry, experience professional growth and retain them in the digital era.
In this context, FMETU carried out discussions with 200 Journalists Island –wide. The discussions centered on their rights and how they can obtain their rights through the collective efforts of media trade unions. These discussions were carried out in the Sinhala and Tamil languages. 140 journalists participated in the Sinhala medium and 60 participated in the Tamil medium discussions.
The second stage of this programme featured a survey on the professional status of 340 journalists from all provinces who are members of the FMETU. A distinctive aspect of this survey was the focus on the professional rights that the members are currently entitled to in their respective media institutions.
This survey revealed that many of the journalists, especially provincial correspondents who form the backbone of the media industry and send news from the ground, do not enjoy basic labour rights and work under severe hardships with meagre pay and little resources to carry out their journalistic duties.
The findings of this survey are available on line on the FMETU website, www. Fmetu.org in the page, IFJ- UTU 2022.
The third phase of the project was training in mobile journalism to a representative group of 20 young journalists. Applications were called for this training and 21 journalists were selected. 30% of the participants were Tamils and Muslims and 30% were women journalists. They participated in a hand on skills development workshop in Colombo, conducted by Dr Sameera Thialakawardena, Digital Media Specialist and Senior Lecturer, Open University of Sri Lanka.
Following the training, the participants produced 17 videos highlighting issues relating to professionalism and rights of journalists in Sri Lanka. These videos now uploaded in the FMETU you tube channel, which is linked to the FMETU website.
A detailed report based on the findings of the survey capturing the professional status and rights of journalists in Sri Lanka has been compiled. FMETU will be presenting this report to the Minister of Labour , Minister of Mass Media. And relevant Government officials.
The FMETU expresses its’ gratitude to the IFJ Asia, Director Ms Jane Worthington and IFJ colleagues for their invaluable guidance and support towards the success of this project.
Dharmasiri Lankapeli Krisni Ifham
General Secretary President