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NewsNalaka Gunawardene Receives Lifetime Award at Nelum Yaya Sri Lanka Blogger Awards

Nalaka Gunawardene Receives Lifetime Award at Nelum Yaya Sri Lanka Blogger Awards


At the second Nelum Yaya Blogger Awards ceremony held at the Media Ministry Hall last afternoon, the organisers presented me with a Lifetime Achievement Award in New Media.The award was presented by Karu Jayasuriya, Speaker of the Lankan Parliament and a champion of the right to information. As he presented the trophy, he told me that he is a regular reader of mine!

The citation (in Sinhala, trying to obtain exact text) said that it was to recognise and salute my long-standing efforts to promote blogging and social media use in Sri Lanka.

I didn’t get to say any words of acceptance, so this is what I would like to have said…

Yashoda Sammani Premaratne (left), Sri Lanka's Blogger of the Year 2015, with Nalaka Gunawardene who received a Lifetime Award at Nelum Yaya Blog Awards ceremony held in Colombo on 26 March 2016

It’s always nice to be recognised by peers — and I do count myself as part Sri Lanka’s diverse and informal blogging community.

However, to use a cricketing metaphor, I am more like a cricket commentator than a star cricketer. I do know the craft but my most useful contributions have been as a cheerleader and populariser of blogging and social media in Sri Lanka.

My own blogging, started in early 2007, was entirely in English for the first few years until I started republishing my weekly Sinhala columns (Sivu Mansala Kolu Getaya) written for Ravaya newspaper from 2011. That made my blog bilingual, albeit a low intensity one: I don’t get the kind of visitors or comments like leading Lankan bloggers do. But I’m contented with that.

Where I have contributed more, I believe, is in documenting, trend-spotting and demystifying the Lankan blogosphere in Sinhala and English (sadly, I don’t have Tamil proficiency to do the same). Over the years I’ve addressed many and varied audiences – from university dons/students and govt officials to civil society groups and journalists – on the public interest potential of social media including (but not limited to) blogging.

Parallel to this, and sometimes in collaboration with my friend Chanuka Wattegama, I’ve been a chronicler and commentator on the social, cultural and political impacts of new media in Sri Lanka. A simple Google search would bring up many of my op-ed articles, book chapters and speeches on Sri Lanka’s emerging information society.

I’m encouraged and honoured by this award, but I have no intention of quitting. Using my blog as well as Twitter and Facebook social media platforms, I will continue to ask inconvenient questions, express unpopular opinions and kick-ass when I need to.

One day, I hope, I’ll finally be able to figure out the demarcation between playing and working in this realm. Does it matter?

Nalaka Gunawardene (left) with Ajith Dharmakeerthi, chief organiser of Nelum Yaya Blog Awards Sri Lanka

* * * * *

One other Lifetime Award was presented at yesterday’s event – to Rasika Suriyaarachchi, engineer turned blogger who has been a pioneering and popular personality in the Sinhala language blogosphere for many years.

Creative and perceptive young writer Yashoda Sammani Premaratne, who blogs as Bassi, was honoured as the Blogger of the Year 2015.

Over three dozen other category winners and commended bloggers were also saluted at the informal, privately organised blogging awards ceremony.

Rasika Suriyaarachchi (left) and Nalaka Gunawardene with their Lifetime Awards presented at Nelum Yaya Sri Lanka Blogging Awards ceremony in Colombo, 26 March 2016

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