Usgoda Arachchi, 34, has worked for five years as a newspaper reporter and freelancer, including stories and photography for the Ravaya newspaper, the Sunday Observer, the Center for Investigative Reporting and Reuters.
During the fellowship program, Usgoda Arachchi will work for Investigate West, a regional digital outlet based in Seattle.
Usgoda Arachchi’s Sinhala-language newspaper Ravaya is an alternative publication started by an investigative journalist and is training young journalists. The OCCRP in late 2021 hired her as an editor for South Asia projects.
Arachchi has done stories on people shot and tortured to death in police custody, illegal sand mining and internally displaced people still living in camps 10 years after the end of the 30-year civil war. She won a fellowship to attend an investigative journalism conference in Germany.
From her application essay: “I have a plan to start a new media outlet to find the solutions for (critical social) issues. I hope it will make an independent platform for ethical and in- depth reporting… I believe that we should expand investigative reporting in crime and corruption in Sri Lanka to push the government for accountability and transparency.
Recommendation from director Center for Investigative Reporting: “Her recent work in highlighting anomalies in Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 response have been commended by readers for the insights and risks personally undertaken to demand a better response from public authorities, reflecting her commitment to the craft.
Recommendation from the director of her newspaper: “Some of the reporting done by her was able to create huge social discourses. Some of those stories have forced the authorities to take immediate action. I especially remember that her investigations on a huge hotel being built illegally by a brother of the former president caused a great deal of controversy.”