Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said journalists and politicians together should protect and strengthen the advancement of democracy.
The Minister made these remarks delivering a public speech under the theme of “Politics in Media” at the official launch of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association website held at Sri Lanka Press Institute yesterday.
Minister Samaraweera emphasised that even if one fails, either politics or Journalism, the progress of democracy would be weakened and added that in a democratic country, there is always minor conflicts between the government and the media.
In the meantime, Minister Samaraweera noted that politicians and journalists weaken democracy further by blaming each other.
The Minister said a new survey conducted in the United States revealed that nurses are the most trusted of all professions, while politicians and journalists are the least.
“Both Journalists and politicians are in the same boat. If a similar survey was conducted in Sri Lanka, I believe that the results would have been much the same. Unfortunately,the reputation of politicians has fallen to the bottom,” the Minister said.
He added that it is the responsibility of journalists to figure out why journalism is considered as one of the least trusted professions, similar to politics.
Minister Samaraweera noted that sometimes he fears about the truth behind an incident gets easily hidden with the excess use of social media, while the traditional media is trying to compete with the rest instead of protecting the ethics of journalism.
Minister Samaraweera further said that sometimes politicians gain the upper hand over the media and added that the country had already experienced a lot under the former government.
“The present government was able to balance it in two and half years. Today,journalists have the freedom to express their views and opinions,” he said.
The Minister noted that as in many other countries the “troll army” is functioning in Sri Lanka as well and added that it could even lead to the collapse the government. He explained that an investigation is being conducted in the United States as to whether Russia had an influence in the last US Presidential election.
“The troll army consists of social media users and they spread false news and at the end of the day, it will make the people believe that the news was true.
There is another very dangerous method called “Bots” and it is very popular in Russia, Libya and other former Soviet Republics nations having its IP address. I would responsibly say that it is highly used by MP Namal Rajapaksa,” Minister Samaraweera alleged.
Minister Samaraweera said MP Rajapaksa’s “Bots” usage amount is 100 percent only during the year 2017.
He said that many plans are laid out to mislead the public through new technology.