Army Commander General Shavendra Silva says the media should be closely monitored during the post Covid crisis period to ensure the correct information is passed to the public.
He said that at the beginning of any crisis, it is vital to regulate, police, control, or even suppress adverse media effects.
“However, in a democratic society, the authorities must be cautious and suppress only media platforms with real adverse effects. Moreover, it should be justifiable as well. In an intermediate phase of a crisis, with sufficient understanding of the facts, related to crises, a liberal policy can be adopted towards the media so that balance and analytical information are available to the society,” the Army Commander said.
General Shavendra Silva was speaking during the International Conference on Mass and Marketing Communications in the time of COVID-19 organised by the European Centre for Peace and Development (ECPD) University for Peace, held via Zoom.
“Public opinion is always disturbed during any crises. During COVID 19 crisis, the public and even the media changed their behaviour by withholding disagreement, criticism, or exaggerations. Also, there were situations where media tend to seek its popularity, promoting the media brand and compete with different media companies rather than focusing on what and what not to be given to the public. Thus, media can be considered a double-edged weapon that can calm the populace, encourage them for a positive response, or terrorize the populace and create further chaos. In the second case, the media would be a destructive weapon since the biggest damage that can be done during a crisis is negatively changing the mindset rather than physical destruction,” the Army Commander said.
He said it is vital to have an ethical and reliable media culture for any country at any time so that during a crisis, the media can engage in an organized effort to control public emotions and control public opinion with a positive attitude.
General Shavendra Silva also said that it is worth mentioning that without a positive attitude in the media, even the best efforts of strategists, experts and leaders would not have the best possible effect.
Therefore, he says in these situations, the authorities’ responsibility is to ensure that the information received by media personnel is received only through the official channel to limit the number of contradicting and confusing information reaching the public. (Colombo Gazette)