New technologies and contested narratives: alternative conflict reportage in the final phase of the Sri Lankan war
Sri Lankan government censorship may have prevented journalists from covering the final days of the civil war, but technological developments such as satellite technology shattered a government monopoly on information and sparked an international outcry over alleged human rights violations. This paper focuses on the final days of the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, staged in a conflict theatre denied external independent media coverage. It argues that the development of satellite imagery and its availability to 'independent' humanitarian agencies provided a somewhat unique media resource, providing alternative and diverse news voices which would have otherwise been censored by the Sri Lankan government. While arguing the hyper-real images of satellite and drone footage provide only a partial narrative of the conflict, this paper argues without it, the much needed debate on the human suffering and the civilian death toll may have been non-existent.