NY Times Dodges Question On Using State Propaganda Editor As Contributor To Article Criticizing Former President

The New York Times which reported a story on how China financed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's election campaign in 2015, has dodged Asian Mirror's query on why Dharisha Bastians, the Editor of the state propaganda newspaper 'The Sunday Observer', was used as a contributor to the story. 

Supun Jagodage, the Content Head of Asian Mirror, sent the following query to the New York Times on Saturday (June 30) questioning the rationale behind using a member of the current Sri Lankan government's propaganda machinery as a contributor to the story. She was appointed the Editor of the Sunday Observer by the politically appointed management of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited, the state newspaper company of Sri Lanka. 

The story is critical of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his administration. 

"We are aware the New York Times adopts a strict ethical framework when producing content, but questions have been raised if these were adhered to when the aforesaid article was being produced. According to the article, one of its contributors is Dharisha Bastians, who currently holds a position with the Sri Lankan government propaganda machinery - she is the editor of the government's propaganda newspaper 'The Sunday Observer', and was hired by a politically appointed management of the state newspaper company. Concerns have been raised in certain quarters that her association with the current government has allowed her to manipulate and influence certain aspects of the information given to the author of the article. We would like to know if the editorial team of the New York Times, which typically followed strict guidelines and processes when vetting staff, was aware of the fact that Ms. Bastians is employed by the state propaganda machinery when soliciting information from her, and would like to know if the NYT would like to comment on the political affiliation of a reporter paid for by the organisation?," Asian Mirror asked. 

The New York Times, which recently asked former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to contact its senior Editorial team over the content published on its platform, has avoided responding to our question thus far.


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