Centre for Investigative Reporting launched | Sunday Observer

Centre for Investigative Reporting launched

Panellists (from left) Amantha Perera , Shan Wijetunge, Amal Jayasinghe and Hana Ibrahim				 (Pix: Malan Karunaratne)
Panellists (from left) Amantha Perera , Shan Wijetunge, Amal Jayasinghe and Hana Ibrahim (Pix: Malan Karunaratne)

The past month January, was full of activities relating to journalism including the ‘Black January’ commemorations and on January 30 the spotlight fell on another important media event, the inauguration of the Centre for Investigative Reporting (CIR).

Widely accepted as the core or essence of journalism, Investigative Journalism (IJ) itself, is now facing troubled times not only in Sri Lanka but also globally. Journalists, who follow the tough and risky path in search of the truth are threatened, abducted, harmed and in the worst case scenarios made to disappear or killed.

After years of planning the CIR was launched last week, to address these and other relevant issues within the media industry. This can also be highlighted as a step taken forward for democracy and transparency in the country.

“CIR is a collective effort of a group of journalists and media trainers who wish to raise the bar in Sri Lankan journalism. We wish to support ground-breaking investigative reporting initiatives, adhering to the highest global professional standards” said CIR Executive Director, Dilrukshi Handunnetti. The Consultant Editor – Defence Correspondent and Political Editor of the Sunday Times, Iqbal Athas, delivered the keynote speech focusing on five key points of investigative journalism. He said, systematic inquiry, forming hypothesis on what is going on, using public records and data, making public matters which are hidden secrets, social justice and accountability are the important boxes to be ticked in terms of good practices in IJ.

A panel discussion moderated by the Director of the College of Journalism, Shan Wijetunge was held soon after the keynote speech, with a panel consisting of Bureau Chief - AFP, Amal Jayasinghe, Asia-Pacific Coordinator, DART Centre for Journalism and Trauma, Columbia University Amantha Perera and the Editor of Daily/Weekend Express newspapers, Hana Ibrahim.

“It’s indeed a low paying, risky job” said Amantha speaking on the role of an investigative journalist. He also discussed about the importance of the physical safety of journalists.

Amal joining the discussion, said that attracting the right talent in the field of journalism is one of the biggest challenges today. “Journalism is not even identified as a profession in the first place.

Then, before we target to produce investigative journalists, we have difficulty in finding good old fashioned journalists too.

After the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge, there is a continuous drop in the student intake of the College of Journalism” he said.

Hana briefed the participants on the role of an editorial desk towards IJ and the struggle to find space for IJ during daily editorial functions.

“With the boom of social media journalism or citizen journalism, fact checking has arisen as another key element in current journalism practice. There is a very big demand for fact checkers right now” said Amal directing the attention to a new element.

CIR was launched as a member of the Global Investigative Journalists Network (GIJN). During the official ceremony, key players of GIJN and other counterparts throughout the world extended their well wishes to the fledgling organisation.