FAQ on TamilNet
Who owns TamilNet, from where does it function, who are the editors, who are the correspondents, from where does it gets funds, why all-sides news and views are not covered, what is its relationship with the LTTE, why by-lines are absent in its articles and features, how is it accountable to what it says, why there are no contact details other than the email address, what is its ultimate aim and what is its stand on international affairs – these are frequently asked questions by well-wishers and critics alike.
Many of the questions stem from viewing media in conventional terms.
Humanity revolutionized information technology, providing opportunities as well as monopolies. TamilNet has taken up the positive sides that liberated information dissemination and applied it to the context of the scenario in the island of Sri Lanka and in the diaspora. Thus it was an experiment of its own kind.
However, TamilNet is firmly rooted on one conventional principle of media. It believes in the inseparability of democracy and media and has staunch faith in the democracy of humanity. It is because of this anchor, TamilNet was able to function successfully the past twelve years despite assassinations of its senior editor and staff and unofficial ban in the island of Sri Lanka. TamilNet is thankful to the democratic world and is always counting on its continuing support.
TamilNet was started in 1995 initially as an emailing media. The founder and colleagues in different parts of the world resolved not to claim individual ownership.
A TamilNet Foundation was registered in Norway but this doesn’t own TamilNet.com.
TamilNet’s operational headquarters is not restricted to country or ‘physical space’ as that of corporate-owned or state-owned conventional media. TamilNet’s operational headquarters is cyberspace with a transnational character. TamilNet does not have overhead expenses of maintaining a centralized office.
Even though temporary situations arose, especially during the peace process, to officially register TamilNet as a media in Sri Lanka, TamilNet chose not to enter the conventional trap due to the potential nature of future censorship, which later proved to be the case.
How has TamilNet been funded is a question often asked. It was a combination of private sponsorship and project funding in the initial years.
Two of the editors in the editorial board, including the founder of TamilNet, have been owners of IT companies. The infrastructure facilities of the companies were deployed for the benefit of TamilNet.
A European country provided project funding during the years 1998 and 1999 which was partly helpful.
Later, there have been internet-based sponsors participating in ‘sponsor a journalist’ programme.
There have been TamilNet support groups in some countries, from time to time, covering the expenses on a voluntary basis. TamilNet maintains records of such contributions.
TamilNet maintains its own correspondents. During the Vanni war TamilNet’s independent correspondent, provided with equipment by TamilNet, was able to cover the happenings until the last days.
Except for a few translators, TamilNet do not have paid resources outside the island. All the editors outside the island serve voluntarily.
TamilNet is essentially a charity and non-profit organization. It remains a low-budget operation, exactly for the reason of not getting into the trap of capital owners or other establishments.
TamilNet earns credibility only through its work and not through personalities associated with it. This is in contrast to the approach applied by conventional media. The editorial board of TamilNet is guided by the principle that it is an alternative media, and the editors neither seek publicity nor make claims to their inputs.
TamilNet was never funded by the LTTE. It was also never controlled by the LTTE. As a media committed to the national cause of Eezham Tamils, TamilNet was maintaining close information contacts with the LTTE and because of the commitment of TamilNet to the national cause, the LTTE was always trusting the TamilNet for releasing information. Pirapaharan’s LTTE was respecting the media freedom of TamilNet.
TamilNet is not equipped to cover all-sides news and views. Hence it concentrates only on exclusive news and views related to Eezham Tamils, which are otherwise unavailable. Readers view TamilNet as a media specialised in a particular shade of information.
Readers contact us through email. The structure and functioning of TamilNet doesn’t permit other modes of contact. However, we find that news sources and others who really wish to contact know how to contact.
Coming to accountability, keeping in mind its semi-transparent nature, TamilNet takes utmost care in the verification of news, self-censorship and in maintaining decency.
Credibility is its accountability and it has been proved on many occasions.
TamilNet is committed to the cause of Eezham Tamils the solution to which is long overdue, running into several decades now. Time to time several media started by Tamils were serving the cause, but there was no continuity. Deploying modern technology and transcending individuals TamilNet has to develop an integral continuity to reach posterity.
TamilNet’s international approach is based on its national perspectives. It neither backs any power nor is bound by any of them. Eezham Tamils should have their own independent and democratic polity is the stand of TamilNet.