The mobile video summit 2019 was successfully completed with awarding of certificates to 24 MoJo storytellers for their commitment active participation to raise a voice for the voiceless in their respective districts on 23rd February 2019, at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute.
Mobile Journalism is an effective tool to address the voice poverty of vulnerable groups in the rural settings. Sri Lanka Development Journalist forum (SDJF) trained 30 young MoJo storytellers for the first time in Sri Lanka, selected from Jaffna, Matara and Trincomalee Districts and were mentored in the use of mobile phones to tell evidence based stories for effective advocacy in resolving selected problems. These storytellers produced more than 30 stories and engaged in advocacy with relevant stakeholders of their respective districts.
These young MoJo storytellers gathered in Colombo on 23rd February 2019 at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute to showcase their Mobile stories and to engage in a national level discussion by way of Mobile Video Summit 2019.
This is the first time such a summit was organized in Sri Lanka. More than 50 young storytellers, journalists, media enthusiasts and other dignitaries participated in the summit. During the summit the mobile stories produced by these young storytellers were screened while they also shared their success stories and how the skill of mobile storytelling has been useful for them to create a voice for the marginalized people and their concerns for greater social awareness.
The summit brought together the MoJo storytellers with senior journalists of renowned media stations as well as other established journalists. A panel discussion followed under the theme ‘Role of New Media to capture marginalized voices’. The panelists Mr. Kumara Alagiyawanna from SLRC, Mr. Manjula Ethugala from ITN, Mr. M.J.R David from SLBC, Mr. D. Ramakishna from Dan TV, Ms. Radika Gunaratnathe editor of Lanka News Web and Mr. Mohommed Bisrin from UTV engaged in a dynamic discussion with putting forward their views and experience on how new media can have a potential impact on telling the stories of the marginalized communities. The discussion was moderated by Samanthika Priyadarshani, Senior Lecturer, Department of Mass Media and Communication, University of Kelaniya.
“State media has limitations in including marginalized voices due to its own challenges within the institution and also because it has to focus more on professionalism and quality of programmes. Therefore, merging new media with the mainstream media is a real challenge in Sri Lanka”, Kumara Alagiyawanna, SLRC.
“Mainstream media too is now becoming dependent on the new media, for example ’Jallikattu’ protest in India first became viral using new media,but went on to seek the attention of the mainstream media later on. Therefore, one can see a changing trend. Viral nature is a critical virtue of the new media, which needs community standards set by the community for it to be sustained in the future”, Mr. Ramakrishna, DANTV.
“It is a complex Media eco-system that is prevailing in Sri Lanka. Therefore it is difficult now to draw a clear line between ‘Mainstream’ and ‘New Media’. There is an opportunity to include marginalized voices in the mainstream media. The government has already appointed a committee to see the possibility to transform state media into a ‘public own media’, but what ‘public media’ remains still debatable?” – Sudarshana Gunawardana, Chief Guest, Committee Member and human rights activist.
The summit also featured a press briefing where the storytellers further shared their experience with journalists and answered the questions raised by them concerning mobile storytelling.
This ‘MoJo video Summit – 2019’ was organized by the Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum (SDJF) as part of Digital Empowerment of Vulnerable Groups to Address Voice Poverty (DEV-GAP) and was supported by the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust (NTT).