Sunday, July 15, 2012

The taming of the Sunday Times

It is often remarked that the local media lacks something in terms of critical analysis. What nonsense!;  is the reply, just see the stories in the Sunday Leader on Srilankan Airlines or the Sunday Times lead on the investment in Greek bonds by Sri Lanka's Central Bank.

There is definitely still criticism but it is distinctly more muted than before, nothing illustrates this better than the story on the Central Cinema. The Sunday Times broke the story last week, but tucked it away on page 19 of the paper. Strangely enough, the story was not carried in the online edition. Perhaps it was just an omission.

Further, quite unaccountably, the important follow up: the destruction of the cinema was missed. There was a one line item in the online edition but that was it. was left to the Sunday Leader to carry a follow up.

Why is it that a newspaper that breaks an interesting story, fails to follow up on it. Sloppiness? Inefficiency? It seems hard to believe. In the context of the failure to put the original story on the online edition (where it could be read by potential overseas investors) and the placement of the original story at the back of the newspaper and one gets the distinct impression of 'soft pedalling'.

I have noticed this before (an example here). A few stories make the lead but a lot more are hidden. Most people have little time to spend trawling through the paper looking for tidbits of information and are thus uninformed. There was a time when the Sunday Times would have pursued this with vigour, but those days seem to be in the distant past. It is still, on the whole, one of the better papers, although this is not saying much. 

The question is why have they lowered their standards? Are they afraid? Have they bought into the GoSL view? It could be anything although analysts tend to believe the latter rather than the former view.  The GoSL liberated the country from ruthless terrorism, give them a little leeway to act.

Unfortunately a lot of people who have bought the hype may not realise that the fundamental requisite for growth is confidence and that confidence in the laws and system of justice is the very foundation of this. Expropriation of property, especially if it is, as the Leader claims, in violation of a court order, strikes at the very heart of confidence.

I am a pessimist, always seeing the glass half full rather than half empty. Perhaps these are minor blips, once these (admittedly) under utilised properties are developed things will start to happen. Perhaps. I tend to think that the most important thing for a state to do is get the governance right and step back and let private investors take over.

I may yet be proved wrong. I certainly hope so.

1 comment:

Patta Pal said...

Jack I completely agree with your observation. Why is the paper observing self censorship on extremely important subjects like the overnight takeover and destruction of private property such as the Central Cinema, owned by the son of Jabir Cader, a former Mayor Colombo and a UNP stalwart.

Why is the UNP not shouting about it either? This is a crazy way to take over private property. Your and mine will be next and are we waiting for that to happen?

This ia a very serious bit of news that needs headlines in all papers for the Govt. to explain.