Sahan Basnayake

Sahan Basnayake

Content created by Virtual Intern Chhim Sokkunthea

Sahan Basnayake was working at a computer repair center when his life took an unexpected turn. Even though both of his parents were journalists, he originally did not plan on following in their footsteps. Eventually, his family history and his own interest in local events led him to a new career. As a local news reporter, Basnayake built connections with the American Center in Sri Lanka and was later selected to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) for a project called "Empowering Civil Society through New Media Platforms."

Shortly after his IVLP, Basnayake became the first Sinhala/English bilingual provincial reporter for DERANA television station in Sri Lanka. From his father, Basnayake learned his photojournalism skills and the desire to look at the world from a different perspective, but he credits his IVLP experience with exposing him to the benefits of social media. He now uses both traditional media and new media platforms to showcase his work.

Sahan Basnayake is using new media skills he learned during his IVLP to become a voice for the voiceless in Sri Lanka. He says, “I think my IVLP really helped me to empower the civil society around me” and he is continually attempting to find solutions to key issues that face society. Thanks to his IVLP, he connected with 18 fellow participants who shared the same experiences and he plans to collaborate with them in the future.

Content edited by Sallie Bestul, Regina Navarro-Gomez, and Jenna Williams

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Just after returning from the United States and finishing up my IVLP, The “DERANA TV” (A Sinhalese language terrestrial television channel broadcasting in Sri Lanka) contacted me. They were about to start their new English news department, and they needed me to join. With this involvement and my IVLP experience, I became the first bilingual (Sinhala & English) provincial reporter for DERANA TV channel in Sri Lanka. In 2017 it was the first time in Sri Lanka that there was a chance to report in English, and I was the provincial reporter. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpo6iN8d3UE) This experience gave me the confidence and exposure to communicate in English. Now I, shoot, edit, and present my own news report. This is a result of my IVLP experience. In May 2017, I had an opportunity to connect with CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation).

CBC wanted me to provide a live update via Skype about the floodings in the southern part of Sri Lanka. The News Producers of CBC found my accounts via social media links that connected me with the IVLP. At the same time, “TRT World” (Turkish state international news channel) that broadcasts 24-hours per day in English contacted by directly via Skype to receive updates about the floodings due to my continued involvement on Twitter. Due to the social Media training obtained by the IVLP, I am now using both traditional media and new media platforms to showcase my work across the world. My participation in the IVLP provided me the skills to now switch between social media and traditional media, according to my audience. After The IVLP, I became the Point of contact of the US Embassy, for the North Central Province in Sri Lanka.

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