PEYTON CROSS WRITES- As we are coming to terms with our recent midterm elections, Sri Lanka is approaching an election of its own. Scheduled for January 2015, Sri Lankans are already being bombarded with ads and other negative campaign tactics regarding their future presidential candidates. Most of these are funded through different parties, but recently some have supposedly originated from web journalists.
On November 18, Ceylon Today posted an editorial discussing something called the “Web Mafia.” The term “Web Mafia” is defined as those who slander and tarnish the characters of politicians and other reputable persons. They claim that the operators of the sites producing these ads are acting contrary to the ethical code of journalists.
Ceylon Today also stated that some of these websites gain money by threatening politicians. Earlier this year, they reported, “These web mafia dons had, in the recent past, after publishing a false news report about the owner of a popular media organization, threatened him with repeated web-based electronic media assaults and asked him to deposit over 10 million [rupees] to an account in London.” A solution to this, Ceylon Today claims, is to persecute, ban, and fine the operators of these sites.
This solution may not be enough. What seemingly is the root cause of the problem is the politicians themselves. The same editorial reports that an editor recently claimed he was offered 50,000 rupees a month by the United National Party’s (UNP) Karu Jayasuriya, who wanted the website to promote him as the common presidential candidate. Jayasuriya allegedly told the editor that he was already paying that amount to several journalists for the same treatment.
True democracy can’t exist if the presidential race is fixed. It’s time someone made the Web Mafia sleep with the fishes.