Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka (MEND)

Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka (MEND)


Through a six-year partnership with USAID, IREX’s Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka (MEND) program improves citizens' access to balanced, reliable, and objective news and information in Sri Lanka.

To accomplish this, IREX works with partner organizations such as the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and Hashtag Generation.

Quick Facts

  • MEND has supported more than 2,000 journalists and 20 media organizations with advocacy, mobile journalism, multimedia storytelling, and the MEND Professional Security Fund for Journalists.
  • The Media Development Partnership program helped to propel Sri Lankan media into the digital age by working with 17 mainstream media outlets, helping them to develop digital content, upgrade their online services, and enhance their revenue streams.
  • MEND launched a media literacy video series that has more than 400,000 engagements on social media, and has trained over 1,500 citizens in webinars based on IREX’s Learn to Discern media literacy curriculum.
  • Through MEND’s MediaCorps fellowship program, more than 260 young journalists were trained in mobile journalism and participated in exchanges fostering cross-cultural understanding. They also received training in gender-sensitive reporting and journalism ethics.
  • The MediaInc. program works with digital media startups to help them grow into organizations capable of “positively disrupting” the media ecosystem.
  • The Media Gender Charter for Sri Lanka launched in 2021 after consultations with over 200 journalists, 21 media institutions, 20 gender experts, gender-based civil society members, academia, and 14 media associations and unions.
  • MEND supported the dissemination of more than 500 media stories to promote reconciliation and good governance, highlighting stories of marginalized and vulnerable groups, and debunking COVID-19 misinformation.


  • Strengthen the ability of media to provide balanced, informed, unbiased, and ethical reporting on key policy and public interest issues in Sri Lanka.
  • Advance the role of media to serve as an important forum for national dialogue.
  • Increase citizens’ demand for accurate, reliable, and objective information, and raise their resistance to disinformation and manipulation.
  • Improve media governance and the enabling environment for media in Sri Lanka.
As a result of [the program], I am able to engage with people from different backgrounds better. This has helped my career as a journalist as I am able to approach situations with more understanding now. Nirasha Priyawadani, Associate Editor, Boston Lanka

Project Activities

  • Support Network for Advocacy Partners (SNAP):  This initiative improves organizations’ ability to promote their mission through training and mentorship on topics such as mobile journalism, planning campaigns, lobbying, media ethics, and organizational management. The advocacy partners will form a network, allowing them to combine their efforts for greater impact.
  • MediaInc.: Media startups have an opportunity to develop viable products and ideas into fully-fledged business opportunities. These startups receive intensive training, mentoring, and other assistance, including limited funding, to manage issues commonly associated with running a startup such as purchasing equipment, buying domain space, and developing a website.

  • MediaExchange: IREX facilitates exchanges between media organizations, where teams of journalists from radio, television, print, or online outlets visit each other’s communities, meet their colleagues, and work on collaborative stories.

  • Civic Action through Mobile Phones (CAMP): Community organizations that serve marginalized populations and promote peace and reconciliation are trained in mobile journalism and advocacy skills, which they can use to amplify their voices and promote positive change.

  • Spotlight: Experienced investigative journalists are trained and mentored by international experts and produce investigative stories, which are published through the journalists’ own outlets, as well as promoted through social media.

  • Gender Equality in the Media (GEM): The Media Gender Charter establishes minimum standards, principles, and actions needed to underpin gender equality in media in Sri Lanka and outlines practical actions to support equality in media workplaces, journalists’ organizations, and the media itself. IREX, working with Sri Lankan gender experts, is conducting gender audits at several media outlets, designed to expose gaps in gender policies; IREX then works with the outlets to address these issues. 

  • Media Salons: The media needs a safe space to come together, discuss issues, and debate possible solutions. IREX partners with organizations across the country to conduct media salons on a quarterly basis; if necessary, ad hoc salon events are also organized to meet specific challenges.

  • CitizensConnect: A dedicated platform for digital stories is being developed and curated by a partner organization, which also trains aspiring citizen journalists in the art and techniques of digital storytelling.

  • Media Literacy: MEND has adapted the Learn to Discern (L2D) curriculum to the Sri Lankan context, recruited and trained master trainers, developed webinars and videos to promote media literacy, and designed workshops. MEND is also developing an online course in media literacy adapted from IREX’s Very Verified curriculum.





Joel Turner, senior technical advisor,