Sri Lankan team aims to empower communities by training young journalists to create multimedia investigative stories. 

By Zoe Postman

Young journalists in Sri Lanka are taking ownership of their stories by creating content they want to see, thanks to a new programme that fosters investigative journalism in their communities.

The programme, Make Reality, trains 30 community journalists to do investigative reporting through multimedia. Half of these journalists are women. It is the brainchild of human rights lawyer Mohamed Azad Mohamed Mustaffa, and MC Rasmin, from The International Research & Exchanges Board.

Journalists in the Make Reality programme have produced ten video stories and are in the process of producing five audio stories.

“We go to the community and use the community as a supporting entity. So the story hunters are the community…they are the ones who choose the stories that they want to see in the media,” said Mustaffa, speaking at the 10th Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Johannesburg on Friday.

The lack of investigative reporting in the mainstream media is what pushed Mustaffa and Rasmin to start this programme.

An audience member raised concerns that young journalists may “lack professional principles of investigative journalism”.

“I would not want to assume that professionalism is lacking in the community,” Rasmin responded. The community members also value the principles of ethical and thorough reporting, he said.

The young journalists have used the principles of “participation, collaboration and source building” to create a new form of media which is created solely by the community, for the community.

PHOTO: Mohamed Azad Mohamed Mustaffa gives an overview of issues faced by investigative journalists in Sri Lanka.  Photo: Kayla de Jesus Freitas