Information Disorder and Mainstream Media in Sri Lanka: A Case Study

A considerable amount of research on ‘fake news’ or information disorder tends to to focus on social media as the producer and distributor of false content. Within this discourse on information disorder, mainstream media is often positioned as an inadvertent distributor of false and harmful content – not as a producer of such content. Therefore, limited attention is paid to the role of mainstream media as both a producer and distributor of information disorder.

This study attempts to contribute to existing discourse on information disorder by evaluating the Sri Lankan context, where mainstream media has a greater reach than social media. The study demonstrates how mainstream media in Sri Lanka can act as a producer and distributor of information disorder, akin to social media. By conducting an in-depth analysis of media reporting on the ‘Dr. Shafi case’, the study illustrates how the media used four elements to produce a false narrative on Dr. Shafi. The findings of the study also highlight the political and prejudicial consequences that resulted from the media’s false narrative.