On 11 May 2016, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms & Mass Media convened a meeting with the senior managers of print and broadcasting media house to discuss how media can support the new Right to Information (RTI) law that has recently been tabled in Parliament.
Nearly 15 years in the making, the RTI law is to be debated in June and expected to be adopted with multi-party consensus. The law represents a transformation across government by opening up hitherto closed public information (with certain cleared specified exceptions).
While media can also benefit from RTI, it is primarily a law for ordinary citizens to demand and receive information related to everyday governance (most of it at local levels). For this, citizens need to understand the RTI process and potential benefits. Media can play a major role in explaining RTI law, and promoting its use in many different ways to promote the public interest and to nurture a culture of evidence-based advocacy for good governance and public accountability.
This presentation was made by media researcher and columnist Nalaka Gunawardene in his capacity as a member of the voluntary Right to Information Task Force convened by the Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms & Mass Media. He illustrates how RTI can benefit citizens, and shares examples from other South Asian countries where newspapers and broadcast houses have been promoting RTI in innovative ways.