(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that all media outlets, including social media, should engage in a discussion regarding whether to enter into international agreements or adhere to the country’s legal framework. He made these remarks during his attendance at the ceremony, held at the Presidential Secretariat today (03), in honour of a distinguished figure in Sri Lankan journalism, Edmund Ranasinghe, the founding Editor and Editorial Director of the ‘Diwaina, newspaper.
This event marked the inauguration of a program initiated by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to pay tribute to senior journalists who have made significant contributions to the field of journalism in the country.
During the ceremony, the book ‘Edmund’s Newspaper Revolution,’ a compilation recognizing Mr. Ranasinghe’s seven decades of media dedication at the age of 93, was also unveiled. This book was authored by Presidential Senior Adviser Prof. Sunanda Madduma Bandara and edited by Presidential Media Director Mr. W. M. K. Wijebandara and Deputy Media Director Deepti Adhikari.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe lauded veteran journalist Edmund Ranasinghe as a trailblazer who catalysed transformative changes in Sri Lankan journalism. He also highlighted that Mr. Edmund Ranasinghe’s contributions to media, spanning seven decades, played a pivotal role in advancing Sri Lankan society, economy and politics. Furthermore, President Wickremesinghe underscored the importance of exploring how artificial intelligence can enhance the field of media art to create more effective media outlets.
Addressing the event, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said;
In 1977, when I initially ran for election in the Biyagama Constituency, I sought out a skilled journalist to write an article for me. My father promptly recommended Edmund Ranasinghe, who subsequently penned my first political article. I held onto it until last year, but regrettably, I no longer possess it.
During my father’s tenure as the Chairman of Lake House, Mr. Edmund Ranasinghe served admirably as the Editor of newspapers such as Silumina and Dinamina. Piyasena Nishanka and M.A. Silva, along with Martin Wickramasinghe, received recognition from senior journalists and writers. Consequently, Mr. Ranasinghe possesses substantial experience in both the media landscape that existed before independence and the one that emerged thereafter.
In 1953, when rice prices surged, Mr. Dudley Senanayake was compelled to resign as Prime Minister. Sixty-nine years later, Gotabaya Rajapaksa faced a similar predicament over fuel shortages. Throughout these 69 years, Mr. Ranasinghe has amassed a wealth of experience, making him capable of writing a comprehensive book on the subject.
Mr. Ranasinghe played a pivotal role in the press struggle of 1964 and his experiences undeniably left an indelible mark on the media culture of our nation. However, the landscape of print media is undergoing significant changes. Journalism, once reliant on lead type, has evolved to include tools like the iPad. The capacity to swiftly access knowledge, even within a venerable institution like the Lake House Institute, has been realized through technological advancements. Consequently, technology has become an invaluable tool for advancing the field of journalism.
Nevertheless, media in any country must operate within the framework of its own laws. The advent of social media has led to a situation where some entities publish content according to their own whims, circumventing established regulations. This raises a crucial question: should there be a dialogue regarding whether all media, including social media, should adhere to international agreements or abide by their respective national laws? Often, many concur with European legislation. Currently, newspapers and journals worldwide are either changing ownership or considering transferring to investors. The future of media art will undoubtedly unfold in the coming two or three years and expertise in this domain may emerge not just from New York but also from Sri Lanka.
Mr. Upali Tennakoon, the former Editor-In-Chief of the Island and Rivira newspapers residing in the United States, delivered the keynote address at the tribute ceremony.
“I am honoured to have been invited to deliver the keynote speech at the tribute ceremony honouring Mr. Edmund Ranasinghe’s remarkable seven-decade career in the media industry.
Mr. Ranasinghe was never one to seek accolades; he always considered his work a service. Consequently, he held the belief that awards were of little significance. However, in accordance with President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s vision, this tribute holds great significance. Edmund Ranasinghe stands as the most experienced journalist in the realm of journalism.
Beginning his media journey as a journalist at the Lake House Institute’s ‘Daily News’ newspaper in 1952, Mr. Edmund Ranasinghe resigned from his post in 1973 in protest against the government’s takeover of the Lake House Institute, where he held the position of Deputy Editor.
In 1977, he was once again appointed as the Editor of ‘Dinamina’ by the same Lake House Institute, later assuming the role of Editor at Silumina as well. In 1981, as the inaugural Editor of the ‘Divaina’ newspaper, Mr. Ranasinghe swiftly steered journalism in this country towards new horizons, elevating it to unprecedented levels of popularity. At the age of 86 in 2016, he returned as the Editor of ‘Silumina,’ showcasing his unwavering commitment to the field.
Mr. Ranasinghe’s approach aimed not to overwhelm readers with empty pages but rather to cultivate an intelligent readership. His career had two primary objectives: expanding readers’ knowledge and nurturing an intelligent readership. His media philosophy continues to be practiced in America to this day.
The phrase “Make Your Child a Classroom Hero” from the Wall Street Journal, used as a subscription pitch, was introduced to Sri Lankan journalism by Edmund Ranasinghe three decades ago. It’s worth noting that many of the prominent figures in today’s media industry were mentored under his influence.”
The event was compered by the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute Senior Journalist Saman Athaudahetti.
The event saw the presence of notable figures, including Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Mass Media Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, State Minister of Mass Media Shanta Bandara, Member of Parliament, Attorney Premanath C. Dolowatta, President’s Senior Adviser on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, President’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change Ruwan Wijewardena, President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, Secretary of the Ministry of Mass Media Anusha Palpita, Government Information Director General Dinith Chinthaka Karunaratne, and distinguished senior journalists, along with a multitude of journalists who gathered to commemorate this occasion.