Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Deconstructing Tulsathit: More Blatant Hypocrisy From The Nation


The Nation

iTV's fall puts dream of independent TV back at square one

Wanted: free-minded journalists to provide quality content for a reborn "independent" television news station. Must be objective, neutral and hard working.

This should be a help wanted ad for The Nation.

Eagerness to embrace digital opportunities in order to involve an interactive audience is another prerequisite. Guaranteed protection from the soon-to-be-promulgated constitution.

Horrible writing.

Believe it or not, something like this was advertised many years ago. But with the iTV saga now just a few days away from returning completely back to square one, we are poised to witness a bitter rerun demonstrating how a truly free and fair broadcast media has been something so near, yet so far in this country.

The broadcast media in Thailand sucks. Anybody with half a braincell in his head knows this every time he turns on the TV. And the The Nation news channel sucks the most. Why not have Sutichai Yoon interview three more ambassadors and spend 3/4 of the interview talking about how "geng" their Thai is.

iTV has been where dreams, harsh realities, beautiful ideals and raw ambitions clash. It has showcased Thailand's strengths and shortcomings, its promising potential and tendency to self-destruct. The ending of the first chapter - to be concluded in the coming days when the station is taken over by the state - provides everyone with a lesson. Whether it's a sad ending depends on whether the lesson is learnt.

Is he trying out as a soap opera writer?

What does the iTV story teach us? Among other things, Thai journalists have the ability and guts to take their "independence" from print and wield it on the airwaves. Sadly, the majority of their employers do not. On the other hand, we have learned that unless there's a big change in political will, there will be more of the same types of "employers" in this playing field, obviously because of the enormous funding required.

Thai journalists have no guts. When it comes to money or integrity, they choose money every time. When it comes to political freedom or kissing the junta's ass, they choose kissing the junta's ass.

But most of all, the iTV saga tells us that the more money that is involved, the less "independence" there will be. Journalists work best in "poor" conditions, in which little complicates their work. (Tragic but true, and probably necessary, as the world would be quite different today if journalists' ultimate goal was to make the most money possible.)

Is there any empirical evidence to prove this correlation? Again, the writing is horrible.

We can blame Thaksin Shinawatra or Temasek for the demise of iTV, but the truth is that the concept of "independence" behind the station was doomed when it was priced in the billions of baht and offered to the public. From day one, iTV journalists became slaves to the survival of the business, its investors, sponsors and to politics.

Always blaming Thaksin, of course. iTV was overpriced, but Thaksin took it off Siam Commercial Bank's hands for them as a favor.

The Nation's journalists, of course, work for free. The Nation has no sponsors. The Nation isn't beholden to any politics or big business. The Nation is morally pure and perfect.

iTV was a good start, a historic breakaway of a TV station from state control. It is fair enough to say that, although the station went straight into Thaksin's hands just a few years after its birth, some sort of "independence" was achieved and the initial dream behind it was partially realised. But if the same financial and business formula was introduced to revive iTV as was used in its launch - giving it to the highest bidder - the vicious circle could be then completed, particularly under the current political circumstances.

The writing is convoluted. The style is bad.

In 2002, a humble yet inspiring story of a community radio host in Thailand captivated the foreign media. Boonsong Jansongratsamee sat in the attic of his home near the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, using ageing hi-fi equipment and a home-made radio transmitter to air everything from political protests to farming tips to listeners within a radius of just 10 kilometres. The tiny one-man radio station was among several community radio outlets that had sprouted up around Thailand, illegally. Unlawful but romantic. The man was fighting an uncomplicated war. He and his like were at a stage when we were driven by pure ideology, and sponsors' interests were remote and the need to go soft on the powers-that-be was alien. It would be interesting to see where he is now, or what he would do if his programme had more sponsorship, a larger audience, or some employees to care about.

More crappy writing.

Quite a few funding formulas have been proposed for the resurrection of iTV, and there seems to be a consensus that if the "independence" tag is to be seriously brought back, an environment shall be created to guard journalists from all the nasty consequences of commercialism.

Why do journalists complain about the commercialism in the media when it pays the bills? If they don't like it, they can become farmers and live off the land.

A revived iTV should be a haven for people like Boonsong in 2002, a place where they are encouraged to do what they are used to doing, only on a new scale and with due rewards for professionalism.

Who will be the arbiters of this new media? The horrible journalists at the The Nation? The government? God forbid, Thai academics? Triphop and Surayot?

In other words, we don't have to look for "free-minded journalists to provide quality content for a reborn 'independent' TV news station, who must be objective, neutral and hard-working". Thailand has plenty of them.

Tulsie has to be kidding. This is where I almost puked my dinner.

The big questions are how those with different political or ideological viewpoints can have equal access and opportunities, and how we can shield these journalists from the lurking enemies of the brave new world where "independence" only survives in a "cheap" environment.

Again, Tulsie gives us horrible writing and nothing of substance. What does the highlighted part in purple mean? Why do Thai journalists overuse quotation marks? Look at any quality newspaper in the world and you will never see this overuse of quotes. You will never see this type of horrible writing also. Unfortunately, mediocrity reigns in Thailand.

Tulsathit Taptim

Usually I give The Nation a hard time, and deservedly so, but this is the first column that made me feel physically sick to my stomach because of the hypocrisy. Tulsathit giving a lecture on journalistic standards when The Nation has no standards at all? That is just to much to take.

How do these Nation columnists look at themselves in the mirror in the morning. They have no integrity or even consistent professional and ethical standards. There is no quality control at The Nation.

These guys probably don't read my blog, but there has to be somebody out there who must be telling them that this stuff they are putting out is horrible.

From an ideological point of view, The Nation staff can print whatever they want, but the writing itself is egregious.

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