Sri Lanka annoints eJournalists

Sri Lankan journalistsThirty Sri Lankan reporters will tomorrow receive commendations after completing a state-sponsored national trade qualification in electronic journalism.

The eJournalist initiative, operated by e-Sri Lanka, an economic development programme within the country’s Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), aims to train working professional journalists in internet publishing methods.

Its aim is to create a breed of tech-savvy journalists who can bring new online content to Sri Lankan citizens. The reporters, from a range of national newspapers and radio stations, were selected through a screening process and received tuition in new media reporting.

Production of news with quick, modern tools like mobile phones could come in to its own in Sri Lanka. The country got a taste of citizen journalism in December 2004, when footage of tsunami devastation was sent to news organisations all over the world by both professional and non-professional eyewitnesses.

“We have given these journalists a comprehensive training on ICT and how they can improve their journalistic skills through the use of new technologies,” said ICTA chairman Professor VK Samaranayake.

“The e-Sri Lanka initiative aims at improving the lives of all citizens through the use and development of ICT and this is just one aspect of it,” he said.

A first batch of 20 eJournalists was confirmed in January, when each was given a computer, tax-free, by the Sri Lankan government. The next will receive the nod at a ceremony at the World Trade Centre in Colombo on Thursday, when local AFP bureau chief Amal Jayasinghe will deliver a keynote on digital newsgathering.