A case study of the relationship between journalism and politics in Sri Lanka

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för journalistik, medier och kommunikation (JMK)


This bachelor thesis is conducted as a Minor Field Study (MFS) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The aim of the study is to investigate the relationship between journalism and politics from three questions at issue: 1) What is the role of media according to the journalists? 2) How do journalists work with political reporting in the Sri Lankan print media? 3) How does print media and politics correspond to each other in Sri Lanka?.

The theoretical framework consists of theories onmedia systems, democracy models, the notion of the public sphere, media during elections and types of regulations.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 informants, both editors and journalists, at eight different editorial offices. The newspapers at which the informants were employed were either state-owned or privately owned. The qualitative material was transcribed and analysed using thematisation and meaning concentration to reveal patterns, attitudes and opinions.

The analysis is divided into two major sections; 'Media's Role in the Society' and 'Media and Politics'. The first section investigates the first question at issue. Informing and educating people are valued as important responsibilities amongst the informants. Media is considered to be powerful in terms of affecting both people and politicians, although, some reservations are made. The second section examines the second and third questions at issue. The ideal execution of political reportage includes notions of neutrality, fairness, balance and unbiased reporting. In reality this is not necessarily accomplished. The state newspapers seem to report on behalf of the government in a positive and uncritical way. Private newspapers consider themselves to be more independent, but political ties and restrictions can disable their independence. Tendencies towards clientelism, political parallelism and instrumentalization are noted in the media environment. Sensitive, political news is often self-censored by journalists due to fear of consequences.

In 'Conclusions and Discussion' the questions at issue are connected to each other in an attempt to discuss the complex relationship between journalism and politics in Sri Lanka.

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