t was journalism that propelled me into blogging. I began to blog in 2005 after reporting on the tsunami and witnessing death and destruction in the North, East, and South of the country. I travelled continuously for a few months after the tsunami, capturing its aftermath with a small Canon Powershot A80 camera. As a self-taught photojournalist, I acquired the necessary technical skills while exploring and experimenting. Journalism is my passion and childhood dream, and the name of my blog, “PassionParade”, reflects that. I have been a journalist for 19 years, but securing my space in the male-dominated field of journalism is still a struggle!
My blog is a non-partisan site with diverse views. It is dedicated to the promotion of ethical journalism—a conscious decision on my part. It captures conflict, culture, events, nature, peace, people, tradition, and other subjects, in articles and photos. I travelled solo to the war zone to capture images—a first for a Tamil woman journalist in Sri Lanka. Needless to say, the work involves taking risks, especially when covering issues related to human rights, post-war development, and so on. The reward lies, though, in being able to report on certain issues that are not covered by the mainstream media in Sri Lanka.
PassionParade provides space for activism as well. Many stories are posted regularly to create awareness about human rights, women’s rights, and so on. The blog came into prominence during the war and post-war period as a space to look for loved ones who had disappeared; to observe developments in Jaffna; to see how women ex-combatants are treated by society; to grasp feminists’ take on the current spate of violence against women; and to think about which festivities add flavour to the nation.
The initial feedback from my colleagues was not encouraging. “Nobody will read your blog!” they said, thinking that a blog is only a space for personal stories. The stories and photos on my blog began to generate interest with time, its regular readers including professors, journalists, researchers, students, feminists, politicians, artists, professionals, human rights activists and businessmen. Its audience has been mostly people who are interested in Sri Lankan politics, war, post-war development, minority issues, ex-combatants, widows, accountability, reconciliation, women’s issues and culture.
The blog is used as a prime source of information—for news gathering, research, documentation and so on—by people around the world. On occasion it has been bombarded with negative feedback from people living abroad and in Sri Lanka—usually whenever I cover a non-Tamil issue or an event. I have been called both “terrorist” and “traitor”, but that has never dampened my passion. Instead, it has pushed me to challenge prejudice.
ushiYanthini Kanagasabapathipillai talks about the experience of being a Sri Lankan woman blogger. Please click the link below to watch the interview with Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai:~