Media,  Sri Lanka

AP writer Matthew Rosenberg’s journalistic ethics

The Editor
Associated Press
New York, N.Y.

Let’s take a look at an example of the latest propagation of journalistic ethics by AP writer, Mr. Matthew Rosenberg. On November 1st, 2007, under the title, “Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers Rebels Run A Global Fundraising And Weapons-Smuggling Network,” he gives his view of the so-called fundraising of the Liberation Tigers rebel outfit as a news item to the international audience. He opens his news item (not analysis) with the following:

    “He’s known as KP, and he’s exactly the kind of man you would imagine running a shadowy smuggling network that stretches from the beaches of northern Sri Lanka to the skyscrapers of New York.”

    When did imaginations of individuals become a news item? Do FACTS ever count?

    Rosenberg continues to say, “Considered pioneers in terrorism, the Tigers raise about $200 million to $300 million a year, mostly through extortion and fraud.”

    Rosenberg does not back up his claims with any evidence. How can he be taken seriously when he misrepresents himself by stating:

      “The New York investigation offers a glimpse of the Tigers’ methods and reach. More that a dozen suspects have been arrested for allegedly plotting to loot ATM machines and bribe U.S. officials to drop the Tigers from Washington’s list of terrorist groups.”

    Rosenberg’s fiction is much different from the facts in this case.

    Investigation reveals:

    The fact is simple; a bunch of Tamils living in Newark, Maryland and New Jersey allegedly decided to steal a few ATMs. In review of the court papers we found, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney, Kim Han, stated, “The defendant is part of a large, highly organized ring of international criminals who steal account and PIN numbers … and then come to the United States to steal money from our financial institutions.” None of the court papers filed indicated any attempts to bribe US officials to drop the Tamil Tigers from the terrorist groups list. By adding such buzzwords, Rosenberg’s writing about so-called terrorist groups in the failed state of Sri Lanka.

    The news item continues,

      “‘After 9/11, the know-your-client principle was supposed to be integrated into the financial markets and into pretty much every business,’ said Shanaka Jayasekra, a terrorism expert at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. ‘The Tigers are showing what can be done to exploit the holes in the system.’ Sri Lanka has stepped up its efforts to cut off rebel supply lines in a war that has killed 70,000 people over the past 24 years. Its navy has sunk seven insurgent ships in the last year….”

    Investigation on the story:

    Our investigation revealed that Shanaka Jayasekra, a member of the Sinhalese majority from Sri Lanka, is currently in Sydney, Australia. When contacted by our investigation team (the San Diego based media watch dog group) the university media relations and public relations acting director, Ms. Kathy Vozella informed us, “The official title of Mr. Shanaka here at the university is only a research assistant… not Doctor of philosophy. We would not call him as terrorism expert, but a good research assistant of the university.” By adding these bogus titles in his news item, Rosenberg creates false credibility for his profession in the international arena.

    Recently, AFP reported:

      “Judging by Sri Lankan government accounts of Tamil Tiger dead after decades of fighting, there should hardly be any rebels left” (November 1st, 2007).

    Sadly, Amal Jaysinghe has been selling journalistic ethics for a long time. On June 29th, 1999 on Operation Jaysikuru, Jaysinghe, then working for BBC (he also worked as a defense correspondent to the Singhalese owned newspaper “the ISLAND”) claimed, “Sri Lankans say they have killed more than 250 rebels in the latest fighting in the country’s north-west.” By not verifying or adding the sentence that these figures cannot be independently verified, Jaysinghe blows his cover rather well.

    All in all, these media ethics come in many forms, both local and international. In the ethnic cleansing war against minority Tamils in Sri Lanka, the state operator uses at its disposal both intimidation and large sums of money to get the media on his side. Indeed, these false reporting perform pretty well on their hidden agenda of making a state organization look good in the eyes of the international media in the cleansing of minority Tamils in Sri Lanka.


    Written by a Tamil Canadian

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