Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sri Lankan journalist J.S Tissainayagam rewarded by the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism

Global Media Forum and the US branch of Reporters Without Borders have formally awarded the respected Sri Lankan journalist and editor J. S. Tissainayagam as first winner of the Peter Mackler Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on October 2, 2009. His wife, Ronnate Tissainayagam, was present at the ceremony to receive the Award.
“For the last 20 years my husband has endeavoured to pursue the goals that Mr.Mackler believed in as a journalist. Like Peter, my husband was never too busy to encourage those who wanted to learn to write and has helped many in journalism. Today my husband is continuing to teach me courage and grace in difficult times. For him no matter what the circumstances are; there is no excuse for unkindness. No matter what circumstance fellow human beings must be treated with dignity », said Ronnate Tissainayagam.
J. S Tissainayagam is a respected Tamil journalist and editor who wrote for the North Eastern Monthly Magazine and the Sunday Times in Sri Lanka. And is the founder of the website Outreachsl.com. He was arrested March 7, 2008 by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) of the Sri Lanka police and got a 20 year sentence on terrorism charges today on August 31st.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Tissainayagam’s case is the first known instance in the democratic world of a journalist being charged under the provisions of an anti-terror law. The organization said that in the past two years, the deaths of eleven journalists - eight of them were ethnic Tamils - have been unresolved by the Sri Lankan government. At least, eight foreign reporters or contributors to international media have been forced to leave the country because of threats from the authorities or their supporters since 1st January 2009 and 30 Sri Lankan journalists have fled Sri Lanka since the start of 2008.
During the ceremony, the key note speaker Marcus Brauchli, executive editor of The Washington Post held a speech on the challenges of reporting in developping countries and the achievements journalists success in thanks to making the information public.
“Doing such good journalism as the Peter Mackler Award encourages takes courage”, said Brauchli.
The Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism was founded in June, 2008 to honor the memory of Peter Mackler, a Brooklyn-born thirty-five year veteran journalist who championed ethical journalism, freedom of expression, and who helped transform the news agency Agence France Press (AFP) into the international competitor it is today. Mackler also founded Global Media Forum, which has helped train journalists and non-profit organizations to use the media as a tool for social change, and Project Plato, which teaches journalism as a life skill to teenagers. Links http://www.rsf.org/Sri-Lankan-journalist-J-S.html and video link http://pmaward.org/ceremony/