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On Suthichai’s Neutrality Trap

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Suthichai Yoon wrote in the Nation column’s Thai talk, dated May 20, raised many eyebrows across Thai blogs world. It made a very interesting reading indeed and he did make many valid points. If you haven’t read this then you should: When ‘neutrality’ means that fact and fiction get mixed up. But it’s worth reading this counter from New Mandala by Nicholas Farrelly too.


What do you think? Has Thai journalists trapped themselves in the quagmire of views and opinions to stay neutral? Here is what I think.

What Suthichai Yoon has to say cast an interesting shadow on Thai society and on the media magnet, himself! However, rhetorical speech is one thing but they do say, don’t they that action speaks louder than words. So come on Mr Yoon, show us what you mean. Why not let your journalists practice what you preach.

Any way, when did the Nation ever told it like it is! OK Mr. Yoon, I’m only jesting! Sometimes the Nation comes up with real gems when the subject isn’t about Thaksin.

Its all right to write an essay on the state of journalism today’s as long as it remains just that an essay to be discussed, chewed over or spat at. However, when a media magnet the like of Suthichai wrote and published it in his newspaper, that makes a difference right! What do you think?

I have to give Mr. Yoon some credit and admit that he raised concerns that we all shared since the Songkran incident. I had never seen such media frenzy! Yet nothing of worth was reported! Instead we had “what he said and what she said” type of reporting which was reactive and stirred up more feelings than calm. The only thing left to go on was the actual footage of incidents or photographs to establish facts but even that got heavily edited.

Responsible reporting as Mr. Yoon has pointed out requires presenting both sides of the stories and allowing the viewers to make up their minds. It does not mean equal air time. It means reporters having the intelligence to report both sides of the stories fairly accurately. It means training reporters to do more than just stand in front of the camera and look the part! We watch the news programs not for eye candy or for entertainment values! OK occasional farce does liven up my life!

What we need to address is how we can educate the unsophisticated media audience on having informed views. We need to show them how to receive news, created by all media and how to reserve judgments until all views have been aired then they can choose to make decisions as in what to believe.

Thailand still has a huge gap between the educated and the uneducated. The mass can easily be exploited by the mass media! Even worse is when the rich and powerful play dirty and use the media to fight their causes but this is not only a Thai media thing but world media. As long as the rich can still buy views, opinions to make them look good then only education is the key to free our minds!

I look forward to the days when politics get discussed at school on the same par as Korean pop stars, Jonas Brothers, Eyelash extensions and children are encouraged to be politically proactive. After all their future is this country’s future and we adults need to see that. Innocence does not mean ignorant. Politic isn’t something only boring serious grown ups talk about but our everyday lives and their future.

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