Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pravit on Media Self-Reflection(or lack of)

Media attacks on samak's leadership may have unforeseen result

By Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation


What's more, media associations appear to be too fixated on Samak and Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted premier. It is no secret that the majority of mainstream newspapers are out-and-out anti Thaksin - and now increasingly Samak - too.

They have become propaganda rags instead of newspapers.

But there are other issues that the media associations should have given more time and attention to.

Obviously. But it is easier to write opinion pieces and attack politician's personality flaws. Writing about governance, issues and doing investigative reports takes a lot of hard work and commitment.

These range from the threat to press freedom through to increasing commercialisation of the media, the continued trend of "dumbing down" that affects the quality of news the public receives. There's a lackof union among nearly all media corporations and it's related to the rigid patronage culture that prevails in virtually all media corporations.

In other words, the media corporations are just as bad as the politicians they are criticizing.

No one asks how the media can truly be a force for democracy, press freedom and human rights when the industry's culture and structure, and even ethics, is so anti-democratic.

Pravit hit it perfectly with this sentence.


It appears that while they spent much effort in criticising Samak, they refused to carry out any introspection on themselves.

Asking the Yoon brothers, Tulsie, Thanong, Sopon and the rest of the lot at The Nation for introspection would be like asking the Lord Buddha if he meditates.

Just one day after the statement criticising Samak was made, two well-respected academics, Chaiwat Satha-anand of Thammasat University, an expert on peace and conflict resolution, and Ubonrat Siriyuwak, a media expert from Chulalongkorn University, came up with their own statement.

The duo criticised media professionals and organisations for "inciting [political] hatred", engaging in "propaganda" to discredit their political opponents "through all means and tricks".

The Thai media is incapable of noticing its own hypocrisy.

The two also raised concerns about the associations' failure to look into the issue and for being selective in criticising politicians.

The Thai media obviously has one standard for their beloved Democrats and on standard for everybody else.

The media war against Thaksin is long and protracted. Apparently, the industry has taken sides so completely that it has lost sight of its role as provider of not just information but fair debate from different camps and perspectives. The public must exercise special caution when reading or watching news reports because although many media professionals take political sides, they are not willing to admit it. And the propaganda war continues, with or without Samak answering reporters' questions.

OK, here is where I disagree. The media, at least the press, has an obligation to report on factual information or the news. There is nothing wrong with saying Thaksin is corrupt, as long as it can be proven. If there is a smoking gun, then there is a smoking gun. There is no need to get both sides to a fact.

The Thai media, on the other hand, doesn't prove anything. It just spreads innuendos and publishes crazy conspiracy theories based on personal opinions.

The enemy of the Thai media is not Thaksin or Samak, but itself. The Thai media is its own worst enemy.


veen said...

Bravo shark. another piece to praise pawit and slam the rest of The Nation. You seem to have a long sleep in the blue (or red?) ocean. As you brand media hypocrite, I agree to disagree with you. But from the bottom of my heart, having read your blogs, I think you're not one of those hypocrites. You know that I can see through every single blog of you and I have no doubt that you don't pretend a thing. It's so clear why you set up your blog, what are your targets? Undoubtedly, your articles seem to sing the same tunes and you may do it for a living. So I respect that. Keep up your good work, shark. Make sure you swim in the Blue Ocean.

Fonzi said...

Why not praise Pravit?

He is the only one with any courage and integrity over at The Nation.

By the way, one doesn't have to be a rocket science or support the government to have a clear understanding that the Thai media is at the core of the country's problems, because it refuses to report on real issues that affect real people.

Anybody can get an understanding of the general worthlessness of The Nation by simply reading its front page or that horrible Xpress.

By the way, I am still waiting for The Nation's investigative reports on all of Thaksin's crimes. Instead of accusing me of being a Thaksin lackey, why not do society a favor and do your job?

I'll make a deal with you. You personally do an investigative report proving that Thaksin is a criminal, publish it in The Nation, and I'll shut down the blog.

And when I mean prove, that doesn't mean regurgitating whatever the government prosecutors say.

The Bangkok Bugle said...

The media really does have a lot to answer for, and I'm saying that as someone working in the media here and with experience of both the UK and US. I don't think it's entirely to blame but more professional standards will lessen the current problems.
The media industry here is just so different. It's common to pay journalists to attend press conferences or to write stories. There's little in the way of ethics and for the right price you can buy a cover story. Editorial is so often advertorial thinly disguised as news. And as I have said before, too often the real news isn't fact - it's based on a journalists own interpretation of events.
I pride myself on the professional standards I'm trying to instill on my own magazine but it's so frustrating when we almost everyone else is playing a different game by different rules.