Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum
Sri Lankan Development Journalist Forum (SDJF) is a well established national level organization, with more than 7 years of extensive experience in promoting the role of media in democratization and transformation. We work closely with local media organizations, International media development agencies, civil society organizations, youth and women development movements and organizations that promote democracy and pluralism towards better transformation. Media for Transformation, Community Media for Inclusive Development and Training and Capacity Building are the major programme areas of Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum. The Democracy, Equality, Social Justice and Inclusiveness are the cross-cutting themes of SDJF.
Within the globalized context, mainstream media has its own struggle and difficulties in catering all the segments in a country. As a result of this global reality, we have excluded communities, voiceless, unheard and underrepresented in Sri Lanka as well. Therefore, Sri Lanka needs a strong community video journalism as an alternative form of media to cater those excluded segments - said Mass Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka.
He noted the above, delivering a speech at the first National Community Video Summit, held on 24th of April at Sri Lanka Foundation, under the theme ‘Capturing Local Voices and Strengthening Democracy for Development’.
The summit was organized by Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum (SDJF) in conclusion of its three successful community video training programs implemented in partnership with Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture (PGIA), Prathiba Media Network-Matara, and American Corner– Kandy.
The summit brought together more than 200 independent video journalists including experts from mainstream media, development agencies, civil society organizations and academia to discuss the potentiality of Community Video as an alternative media to keep citizens informed, shape their perspectives, facilitate people participation in democratization, and help the citizens to play an active role in fostering wider justice and accountability.
The summit explored the fact that the independent video journalism has enormous potential, in the current socio, economical and political environment for the excluded segments to have a voice on issues affecting their societies.
Nicole A. Chulick, Counselor, Press, Cultural and Educational Affairs, Embassy of United States for Sri Lanka and Maldives and H.E. Shelly Whiting, High Commissioner of Canada in Sri Lanka also took part in the event.
Speaking further Minister of Mass Media Gayantha Karunathilake noted that Community video journalism as a substitute form of people’s media is produced by the community and for the community. It is used globally to promote conflict resolution, free expression, social and behavioral change, local knowledge, critical thinking, democratization and rural development.
He also noted that community video has the potential in bringing local stories on right-based concerns such as rights of women, children and migrants. It also helps the community members to reach out to policy makers.
It allows people to participate in media production. In community video journalism, people are the writers, editors, and producers. In a traditional media context, the audience is treated as customers, and consumers. But within community video journalism the audience is treated as stakeholders and active contributors. This kind of journalism increases the media literacy of the civil society as well – he added.
The inaugural session was held under the theme ‘Voicing for the Unheard and Under-represented - Positioning Community Video’. This was chaired by Minelle Fernandez, Reporter, Al Jezeera. Jayantha Karunarathne, Head of Camera, Recoding and Lighting Division, ITN, Udaya Shan Idamegedera, News Manager, Siyatha FM & TV, T.M.G. Chandrasekara, Director - Research and Training, SLRC, Chaminda Karunarathne, Head of News, Swarnavahini, Sandaruwan Thilakarathne, Producer & Script Writer, Hiru TV and Shehan Baranage, Director – News and Current Affairs, TV Derana were the speakers of this session.
Necessity of independent video journalists being trained, need for community engagement in making media for the community, media ethics in community video journalism, capturing and disseminating right-based concerns through Community Video journalism, potential of community video in encouraging public participation, accountability and governance, and promoting political participation of people through community video were different topics discussed in the session.
The panelist expressed the need of community video journalism to have recognized by the government through policy. In chairing a session on Community Video – Making it a Media for People, Dr. Paradeep Weerasinghe noted, Community Media, particularly Community Video journalism needs a welcoming environment in Sri Lanka, and the Sri Lankan government is committed to create such an environment. Speaking further he added that mainstream media must not be seen as the only avenue to disseminate the video’s produced by community video journalists. However, it is important for the mainstream media to have a lot allocated for community voices.
Chaminda Karunarathne, Director News, Swarnavahini noted that Community Video journalists should be informed of understanding the role of a journalist in a context where the community he or she lives in crisis. He also emphasized issues around women, youth, children, and migrants can also be addressed using community video.
Nicole A. Chulick, Counselor, Press, Cultural and Educational Affairs for Sri Lanka and Maldives indicated that summit sounds a milestone in the field of video journalism promoting people voice in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Raguram from the University of Jaffna raised a perspective that giving or taking employment opportunities should not be taken as a final destination of community video journalism. Community video journalism is something that should survive in the community as an integral part of it. It should come up in a time of need.
Speaking of this summit Prof. W. A. D. P. Wanigasundera, Chairperson of SDJF noted that the commercialization, globalization and politicization are threats for many mainstream media. And this is a global reality and not an issue specific to Sri Lanka alone. Within such a context we also need a media that could represent all segments of the community regardless of their diversity, and not treat people as just recipients, particularly women and children as not just victims. Such a media should also be able to vividly capture the positives of the community and culture, build a united identity respecting diversity, and make people’s voice louder.
As a part of the summit Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum launched Sri Lanka’s first community video news website www.ivoice.lk
During the post lunch session, SDJF announced the National Community Video Award winners. 10 National Community Video Awards were presented for those independent Video Journalists who took part in the National competition concluded last month.
Community video is a powerful tool, used globally to promote conflict resolution, free expression, social change , behavioral change, local knowledge, critical thinking, participate in democratization and people perspectives. The process of making community video not only transforms disadvantaged individuals but also wider communities whose voices are excluded in mainstream media.
In this context SDJF decided to launch its first National Community Video Competition with an aim of encouraging young video storytellers and social activists to tell the stories that are important for them, for their community and for their country.
SDJF invites all interested individuals to take part in this competition. Age limit is 18-35 years and the deadline for the submission of videos will be April 10th 2016.
Please find the below poster for further details of this competition.
The participatory community video storytelling program was organized by Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum in partnership with Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya for 25 potential youth in the Kandy district. This program started in the month of December 2015. The program consisted 4 training workshops for the youth on using participatory community video storytelling in addressing community issues in the district.
The final training of this workshop was held on 27th and 28th of February 2016 at the American Corner, D.S. Memorial Public Library, Kandy. The youth were enthusiastic on finalizing their videos and towards the end of the training 10 powerful community videos were made by the young storytellers.
Youth had covered role model stories as well as community issues in their videos. Some of the stories covered issues in areas like Digana, Ulapane, Hasalaka, Pilimathalawa, Mawanella in the Kandy district.
Speaking about the program most of the participants noted that this program was a turning point in their lives as they believe community video storytelling is a power tool to bring out their own community issues and find solutions by showing these to the authorities and other responsible parties.
SDJF in partnership with Prathiba Media Network in Matara organized the community video storytelling program in Matara district for 25 selected young video lovers. The final training workshop for the youth was held from 19th to 21st of February 2016 at the Sri Lanka Unites Reconciliation Centre in Kamburupitiya.
During this final training the youth were involved in field visits to shoot their stories. Their stories were found in areas like Urapola, Akuressa, Godapitiya, Lenabatuwa and Neralampitiya. Once again Ruwan Bogamuwa and Ahmed Usama as the trainers of this program gave youth a good knowledge on editing and towards the end of the training the youth were involved in editing and finalizing their videos.
Speaking about their experience in the training many participants noted that they were able to learn many new things from this community video storytelling program.
19 years old Meedumi Ranagalage from Kamburupitiya noted “I never knew about community video storytelling before I came to this workshop. But now I have a good knowledge and an understanding about this whole concept. I was able to learn about different shots and angles and also by learning how to edit a video I am very confident that I can make powerful community video in the future”.
19 years Chathuri Priyadarshika from Horapawita mentioned “Before I came to this program I had never touched a camera in my life. There are so many learnings I gained throughout this training. Especially by learning about different camera shots and angles now I am well capable of reviewing a film or a documentary. Moreover I learnt the importance of engaging the community in these types of videos because community video storytelling is about a story of a community and their involvement in making their own video is highly significant”.
18 years old M.H.L. Yasir from Weligama stated “The most valuable learning for me in this training was video editing. This training gave me confidence to go back to my village and produce videos about our own issues. By doing that I believe we can find practical solutions effectively”.
18 years M.Y.M Fahad from Matara acknowledged “Even though I knew about videos it was only after I came to this workshop I understood the power of community videos especially the effectiveness or the usefulness o these types of media initiatives to the society. After I complete my A/Ls I am planning to engage myself in this field and this training helped me immensely for my future career”.
With the end of the Community Video Storytelling Program the 25 youth were able to produce 10 community videos covering 10 various issues affecting the communities including few role models in the Matara district.
The young story makers of the Participatory Community Video Storytelling Program organized by SDJF in partnership with the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya were engaged in their third training from 6th to 8th February 2016, at the American Corner, Kandy.
The main activity of this training was to engage the youth in field visits to search various community issues and also to find community role models in the Kandy district. Youth travelled to areas such as Ulapane, Lolugama, Pilimathalawa and Digana and they were able to find many serious issues affecting the communities in these villages.
After finding role model stories as well community issues, the youth were engaged in developing scripts along with the trainers. They were formed into groups and were given tips as to how they should develop a powerful story lining for a participatory community video.
The final training of this program will be held on 27th and 28th of February in which the youth will be finalizing the editing of their final video.
A participatory video storytelling program for 20 young video makers from Matara district was organized by SDJF in partnership with Prathiba Media Network. The first training of this program was held from 9th to 11th January 2015 at the Rural Development and Management Training Centre, Dickwella in which the youth were given the knowledge on community video storytelling concept.
The second training workshop for the youth was held from 29th to 31st of January 2015 at Sri Lanka Unites Reconciliation Centre, Kamburupitiya. The training was conducted by Ruwan Bogamuwa and Ahmed Usama; two well known Senior Producers in Sri Lanka.
During the first day of the training the youth were given the knowledge on basic shots, angles and lighting for video production. They were engaged in practical sessions to practice these techniques and were given group exercises to explore their technical skills in order to produce community videos.
On the second day of the training the youth were divided in to four groups and were sent on a field visit to engage themselves in doing a video on a community issue. These community issues were brought up by the youth themselves by doing research after the first training. Field visits were done in areas like Karaputugala, Mirissa, Madiha and Kamburupitiya.
The final day of the training was used to edit the community videos. Youth acknowledged that they were able to gain a sound knowledge about the technical component of video storytelling and also the field visit was a very big turning point in their life as they were able to work along with the communities to present their stories through a mechanism like video storytelling.
The final training of this program will be held from 20th to 22nd of February in which 10 community videos will be finalized by the young video lovers.