A community is a group of individuals who share the same representation and values of attachment to a brand whether they share a direct link to the community or have roots belonging to that community. The shared passion for community interest constitutes a center of involvement and influence, requiring regularity in interactions in order to create a feeling of belonging to the community. A community has to find its place in both the digital and physical sphere for creating social networks. Newspapers are the oldest form of creating connections. SrilankaNZ makes the best use of the oldest form of communication for the Sri Lankan community based in New Zealand. It provides an interactive window for the people belonging to this group. The newspaper aims to manage the relationships between New Zealand based Sri Lankan community, increase national solidarity and loyalty, identifies ambassadors, collects ideas, provides service, and sets trends. The list goes on for the ways this platform is working to bring the community together!
SriLankaNZ (ශ්රී ලංකන්ස්) is a community newspaper serving the interest of more than 18,000 Sri Lankan people residing in New Zealand. It brings the best opportunity for non-native Sri Lankans to feel like home away from home. The newspaper was initially launched digitally with the first edition released in November 2019 through its website(srilankanz.co.nz). Considering the high demand and traffic on the website, it went from digital to print. The first printed copy was available for free in March 2020. Since then, it is distributed for free as the sole purpose is to protect the interest of the community. It was founded by Harsha Weerakoon with his partner(friend) Charith Ekanayake known as CJ , the multimedia specialist. It was Harsha’s dream to see a printed newspaper in New Zealand for a long time, but had to wait until find the right person. They have created a community and they are continuing to grow. There is no magic formula to building a community but binding them requires zeal and motivation. They have touched every target of interest for the Sri Lankan community. Their efforts made it possible for SriLankNZ to acquire the status of the only newspaper representing Sri Lankans outside the homeland. The newspaper is released in English and Sinhala both as it combines New Zealand with Sri Lanks as visible in its name, Sri LankaNZ.
Engaging the Community with Shared Interests
The newspaper has managed to form a community of multicultural Aotearoa. It is a group of individuals who share the same representations and the same values of attachment to their motherland, Sri Lanka whether they were born in New Zealand or Sri Lanka. The collective desire to keep the newspaper running has brought many together as it develops a feeling of belonging to the collective project of representation and personal voice. The newspaper covers information, news excerpts, articles, sports, job opportunities, marriage proposals, classifieds, children’s section, and much more with the essence of Sri Lankan culture.
Almost all of the readers around the world value the trust they have in the SriLankaNZ Newspaper. The founders who are successful in instilling confidence are able to grow the community objectives beyond just a newspaper in print and digital. They have managed to help the new settlers in New Zealand to find their way by adjusting to the cultural dynamics of a new place. They have this feeling of assurance that a community exists to serve the individual interests of members even in the far-off land. It has made networking and socializing much easier. Having a newspaper to represent the community is the most effective form of reward to engage community members and share the concept with them.
The most frequent mistake made by those who want to unite a community is to forget the individual interest of the members. The main derivative behind launching the newspaper was not just the grouping of individuals with common interests but to restore the interest. As they knew that in order to federate a community, then the real added value is in offering what the people will prefer whether it is content, a service, or a particular experience. As the more added value that one offers, the more effective it is when it touches on an individual interest. The SrilankaNZ has done this very effectively. People who contribute to the publication of the newspaper have a greater chance of representation and they get closer to other members of the society. Individual interest comes before shared vision, even when talking about community and every individual wants to find a connection to socialize on festivals and celebrate every moment.