Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka (MEND)

Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka (MEND)


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

The program also supports Sri Lanka’s efforts to solidify recent advances in media freedom and democratic governance.

To accomplish this, IREX works with several local organizations, such as the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI).

Quick Facts

  • The program has supported more than 1,400 journalists through advocacy, mobile journalism, multimedia storytelling, Learn to Discern training, and the MEND Professional Security Fund for Journalists.
  • Through MEND’s MediaCorps fellowship program, more than 180 young journalists received training on improving cross-cultural understanding. They also improved their ability to foster diversity and produce gender- and conflict-sensitive reporting.
  • MEND supported the dissemination of more than 390 media stories to promote reconciliation and good governance though Vibrant Voices, MediaCorps, and MediaCorps Watch programs.
  • After participating in MEND training sessions, 97.7% of media professionals reported an improved understanding of key topics.


  • 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

  • Advocacy partner training: The program partners with journalists’ unions and advocacy groups, especially those outside Colombo, in support of grassroots campaigns, social media advocacy, and microgranting. The program will hold three-day advocacy trainings on key issues in media reform and seek new and nontraditional partners to reinvigorate networks.
  • Mentorship for media outlets: Cohorts of media outlets are paired with media mentors to receive training on rigorous research and innovative storytelling techniques, aimed at surfacing sidelined issues and unheard voices. Each cohort includes a political component to ensure the stories they produce will be immediately applicable to the current political context.
  • Gender Charter for Media: The first of its kind in Sri Lanka, the charter establishes minimum standards, principles, and actions to support gender equality in media. It outlines practical steps to support the achievement of equality in media workplaces, journalists’ organizations, and media itself.
  • Journalism fellowship program: Young journalists are paired with peers from other linguistic, ethnic, or religious backgrounds in Sri Lanka. They work collaboratively on stories that focus on transitional justice, social cohesion, and national integration issues.





Linda Trail, senior technical advisor,


  • Media
  • Asia
  • Sri Lanka