When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Sri Lanka

A Surprisingly Fragrant Way To Save The Newspaper Business

In Sri Lanka, take a whiff of that newspaper. Its ink can help shoo away deadly mosquito-borne diseases, one of the more improbable ways to save the printed press in our digital era.

Approved by Bill Gates
Approved by Bill Gates
Julien Bouissou

COLOMBO In markets stalls in the Sri Lankan capital, and elsewhere in the world, they are used to wrap fish. But that is just one daily use for newspapers beyond reading them, there are others.

Saranga Wijeyarathne, chief of marketing of the Sinhalese-language dailies Mawbima and Ceylon Today, had been thinking for months about the possibility of adding a special "scent" to the day's news pages to help increase circulation.

Wijeyarathne was waiting for the perfect opportunity, which came on April 7 with annual World Health Day. That day, the first-ever citronella-scented newspapers rolled off the presses, with the aim of protecting readers from mosquitoes. It is a new way to fight the spread of mosquito-borne dengue fever, which can be fatal and affects up to 30,000 people every year in Sri Lanka.

The time of day when newspapers are typically read — in the morning and evening — coincides with when mosquitoes are the most threatening. In the first days of this trial, newsstands around the country sold out a special printing of 200,000 copies, 30% more than ordinary days.

The Ministry of Health welcomed the initiative, as did Bill Gates, who praised the project on Twitter.

I like the ingenuity… mosquito-repellent newspaper helps fight dengue in Sri Lanka: http://t.co/Ou33MrXBiH via @ozy

— Bill Gates (@BillGates) July 11, 2014

The first mosquito-repellent newspaper in the history of press was not easy to develop, starting with the choice of repellent. Citronella oil, which is extracted from the leaves and stems of lemongrass, was chosen for its scent, considered pleasant and easily identifiable. Instead of spraying it onto the newspapers, it was decided that it would be mixed with the ink to make the scent more persistent. A chemist was hired to set the dosage, while mechanics made sure the liters of citronella would not damage the printing presses.

At the beginning of the operation, citronella-vaporized posters showing insects stuck in the Sinhalese letters were installed at busstops.

"Daily newspapers are not dead, as long as we innovate and believe in the future of this format," says Wijeyarathne. "Since newspapers across the country started innovating to modernize the image of this medium and make it attractive, sales stopped declining."

The first 3D newspaper, or one that could be used as a flag, published on the National Day of Sri Lanka, were also launched in the country. In Ecuador, a daily printed on laminated paper, to provide shelter from rain, also came off the presses.

It's not the paper

Although it was successful, the mosquito-repellent newspaper cannot be published every day because of its high cost. “Above all, the newspaper wanted to raise awareness among the general public about dengue fever, and we wanted to generalize the use of citronella, which is a natural insect repellent, but less and less used,” explains Ranil de Silva, the head of the advertising agency Leo Burnett in Sri Lanka, which took part in the operation.

Wijeyarathne is thrilled that his mosquito-repellent newspaper got noticed in big places abroad. "The problem with newspapers is not paper, but the lack of ideas," he says.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest