Making News in a Third World Country

Initially supposed to be my speech for Phonetics, at least before I was told of the two-minute time duration it now conveniently switched to le blog 😀 Therefore I shall conveniently switch the word ‘speak’ to ‘blog’ and abracadabra! There’s my new blog.

Weird as it may sound when I opted for ‘Communication’, I did not visualise myself ‘communicating’ per se to an audience of approximately 80+ students. Stage fright has always made me go cold in my knees despite having made such compulsory speeches over the years for academic and other purposes.

Coming from where I do my first choice of speech [and now blog :D] was evidently ‘Post-War Sri Lanka.’ Having heard the prefix ‘Post-War’ one too many times for my liking since last May, the phrase had a natural inclination to make itself heard even at places I would consider inappropriate such as my Phonetics CIA III (Continuous Internal Assessment). Cliché nonetheless in my opinion. My next choice of option was what I would consider a rosily drawn up (yet another) cliché, ‘Bangalore at First Site.’ However, having blogged about it already I ventured to my next option of speaking on ‘Stage Fright,’ despite not having much to speak about it anyway.

Cutting to the chase, what prompted me most to blog on ‘News in a Third World Country’ was the experience that was accumulated through my brief tenure as a journalist for a Sri Lankan newspaper; ‘Daily Financial Times’ six months prior to joining University. When I joined the newspaper, despite having wanted to be a journalist for a considerable amount of time, I never dreamt of working for a financial newspaper. Ironic as ‘it may sound, Economics’ was the first set of books to find its way to the recycled bin once my finals were over. However working in a financial newspaper, I was exposed to the practical side of what I mulled over for two and a half years. Interestingly enough I became more enthralled by the subject so much so to an extent that I found myself contemplating between PSEco (Psychology, Sociology and Economics); and CEP (Communication, English Literature and Psychology).

Within the short period of six months I am thrilled to say that my levels of general awareness of the situation of not only the financial world but also the country and world as a whole increased by a significant percentage. I also found myself captivated by CNN newsreaders; AFP and Reuters Local and International Correspondents. Seeing them at work made me say the line “Senashia Ekanayake for AFP.” *LoL* However, I doubt I ever would as I’m determined to remain in print media, with stage fright as bad as this I could never do a live performance.

In spite of being taken up by hot shot media groups as such, I saw and was also explained to both positive and negative sides in making news from a third world country. Do note that I use the phrase ‘third world’ as I intend to make a point and not that I am unaware of the fact of it being substituted by ‘developing.’

The Flip Side. Yes, I do believe in hearing out bad news first, always. Gives more room to savour good news 🙂 Explaining simply, what is considered the lead story of a local newspaper, main headline of a local news bulletin would not necessarily mean that it would even reach the tabloids outside the country.

It’s ironic as I remember finding myself overjoyed by the fact of having some thirty thousand readers reading my newspaper (our circulation is very small as we launched only last November). That’s when it occurred that it was nothing compared to the hits on Reuters or AFP website that covers virtually all over. Therefore, my point being that ‘third world’ countries such as ours, (including India might be a little vague given the rapid expansion and development seen or at least heard of) hardly make it BIG. What we consider BIG news, might hardly hit the bucket of page eight in the New York Times. An appropriate example I think would be IIFA that was held early June. I was not following it on the Indian websites but it was huge for Sri Lanka. The influx of high-end tourists and investment was the talk of the town since mid March if I remember correct. However, as mentioned, what Sri Lanka or a third world country considered BIG was very small in the face of earth.

Moving to the sunnier side of things, it might sound as though I am contradicting what I stated previously but it’s third world countries such as mine, Iraq, Afghanistan etc that make the news. There was a reason for me to choose the countries I did as we all share something in common; terrorism.

Politically and geographically terrorism is claimed to have been wiped out in my country and was considered BIG news both locally and internationally, after all it was 30 years of an uncountable number of deaths. Coming back to my point, it’s countries such as ours, third world countries that do make BIG news at the end of the day. As I said I sound as though I contradicted what I said previously but the point is to look at both criteria independently.

In my experience I have seen local correspondents for AFP and Reuters despite earning fancy, hardly making the news. In fact, I was told that the number that applied as correspondents to Sri Lanka drastically reduced upon the declaration of the ‘end of war.’ Hence it is evident that as third world or developing countries face amass of problems that obstruct there development, fancy news agencies will never be short of a lead story. Despite a plush office and an iMac book pro, the real news always happens in countries like our own whatever the worlds may say.


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