Diversifying learning through synergies | Sunday Observer
InSPIRE Annual Forum 2022

Diversifying learning through synergies

26 June, 2022

Diversifying learning through synergies was the theme of the first annual forum conducted for aspiring young media and journalism undergraduates from four national universities.

The annual forum held in Colombo recently was organised by HELVETAS Intercooperation gGmbH (HELVETAS) in collaboration with Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum (SDJF) as part of the “Incubator Spaces for Promoting Information Rights and Freedom of Expression” (InSPIRE) project funded by the European Union.

The prime focus of the annual forum was to provide a platform for knowledge building and information exchange as well as providing opportunities for cross fertilisation of ideas and promote peer to peer learning among aspiring young journalists and media undergraduates from universities of Jaffna, Peradeniya, Sri Jayewardenepura and South-Eastern University. It provided opportunities for the young undergraduates to engage with industry experts.

The annual forum commenced with speeches delivered by HELVETAS Country Director Subhashi Dissanayake and SDJF Program Director Azad Mustaffa. This was followed by a panel discussion on investigative journalism: Striving for Democracy Through Investigative Journalism, consisting of a panel of journalists: Dilrukshi Handunetti, (Executive Director, Centre for Investigative reporting Sri Lanka); Shihar Aneez, (Investigative/ Data Journalism trainer, Centre for Investigative Reporting Sri Lanka); Rifthi Ali, (Founder/ Chief editor of Vidyal.lk) and was moderated by Azad Mustaffa, (Program Director-SDJF).

During the panel discussion, Handunetti said that “Investigative journalism is about speaking truth to power” and contributing to achieve justice. She discussed how journalists should not become the story and be able to cover the stories that are out there.

Referring to experiences of prominent female investigative journalists: Rana Ayyub from India, Rozina Islam from Bangladesh, and Sheila Coronel from the Philippines, Handunetti shed light on the difficulties female investigative journalists go through in the face of adversity.

Data journalist Aneez stressed the importance of data is not only on numbers, but information shared.” Rifthi Ali highlighted how important it is to be aware about the Right to Information act (RTI) to journalists in Sri Lanka. He encouraged the participants to use RTI to seek pivotal information of public interest. The Question and Answer session, which followed after presentations of panellists provided a platform for young media and journalism undergraduates to clarify and learn on key aspects of investigative journalism.

The panel discussion was followed by a brief practical learning session on Mobile Livestreaming conducted by Alexshanther Kamilas which was popular among the young participants as they learned techniques of livestreaming as well as on how to use livestreaming in reporting. An interactive information session on the Right to Information (RTI) Act was conducted by Piumi Madushani and Priyadarshani Paulraj from Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL).

The informative session taught the key elements of the RTI Act, how to file an RTI (through a group activity) and proceed with appeals and provided exposure to the use of RTI as a tool for journalism.

The annual forum concluded with the launch of the four modules: Freedom of Expression, Right to Information, Digital Citizenship and Gender in New Media developed under the InSPIRE project.