Media War

exposing media bias in Thailand

Consumeristic Media

It is well known fact that with the  raise of corporate media, the information and news has become increasignly consumer-catering. It is a huge business of course – the selling of information. To survive and thrive media corporations have to seek larger  markets, and therefore make their “products” (information) more “marketable” and sellable. Thus the orientation of  MASS  media (particularly emerged term Main Stream Media) towards the larger groups of consumers – who are naturally mostly middle class.

That’s why corporate reporters eventually have lost  the credibility of real journalists who supposed to do more field work. Although “embedded journalists” was an attempt regain that credibility, these “embedded journalists” were still same corporate journalists who would only follow the line of their agencies  – in other words,  “embedded journalism”  was nothing else than applying the “selective evidence”  fallacy on large, HUGE scale  – on the corporate level !

Due to the growing awareness of both these things,  thoughtful public with critical mindset is increasingly turning towards the alternative sources of information (I don’t want to use word media here – better to say “sources”).  Blogs and Forums are part of such alternative sources. Nowadays there are even websites which provide the membership which enables one to have a Live broadcasting channel.  This is perhaps the latest growing phenomena of “raw” flow of information. There are video cameras which can stream the video footage directly to the person’s Live broadcast channel. It was sucessfully used by protesters in USA  during last year Presidential elections campaign.  Jotman on his blog has mentioned this event of “citizen reporters”  broadcasting live from the places of clashes between police and protesters at RNC.

This resistence toward the “subjugated knowledge” will continue, no doubt ! Because people are increasingly pissed off with dishonest and unscrupulous distortion of facts by MSM reporters, who are getting more and more lazy and complacent, and yet have audacity to attack those who do the work which rather should be done by such reporters !

Today while reading some websites, I’ve come across few spots which correspond to this issue, the first one is here:

It is not rare to see the news reporting resemble a ping-pong ball, when reporters gather to solicit comments from politicians. The questions that are asked indicate that the reporters have not done enough research. Since the information has been manipulated from the start and the news consumers want general information, newspapers and reporters can only offer what the market wants…  democracy will only grow when its citizens become politicized… How could this kind of democracy grow if society still manipulates and blocks “some” information and lacks systematic criticism?

Of course, here author more like advocating reporters for not doing proper job, explaining it by the orientation on market. However  he doesn’t hold reporters responsible for not helping citizens to become politicized, although certainly MSM have a huge influence on forming public opinions and interests. (as it was mentioned many times that Thai MSM has formed an opposition to Thaksin while he was a PM – because Media bosses felt like the actual opposition is too weak and uneffective)

now, here is one of the opinions by Nick on NM blog, whose report on recent Red shirts riots has been praised by many (both journalists, as Baker, and non-journalists  as readers of the Thai blogs)  as one of the best if not the best account of  the events :

… the journalists who now come out and criticize my and some other journalist’s stories of the present political mess are never, or hardly ever to be seen working on the ground, neither in Red Shirt protests, nor in PAD protests. Thai history is written right now, and i am constantly appalled how few journalists (and academics) actually make the effort, and work these events from the ground level, and instead decide to write their stories from their offices.

The best idea would though be that the critics of my reporting from the ground level would go down and make their own researched reports from the ground level, and find their own interpretation of what is happening now in Thailand’s political scene. Let well researched stories compete against each other, and let the reader decide for himself.

I am coming from a school of photojournalism that has the (outdated?) ideal of giving a voice to the people that generally have no voice in society, and who usually are the poor. The vast majority of Red Shirts are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and are demonized by the mass media, especially here in Thailand. I believe that they have very many reasons for their complaints, and do express them with much clarity, yet maybe not as eloquently as a person with a university degree. One just has to open one’s ears and heart, and listen to what they have to say. I believe that i am much less biased than the majority in the media that demonizes these people without allowing them a voice, which simplistically labels them uneducated thugs that are bought by Thaksin.

Regardless of my sympathies – i am primarily a photojournalist. I record and report. I am not an activist or propagandist…

I do not trust any second and third hand information, especially one that has not been confirmed by several trusted and proven sources of mine…

We get so much spin on events, that it is almost impossible to get down to the bare facts. Therefore i decided to write what i have seen, and no more. When i have not directly seen things, which though are important to the report, i have made that clear as well.

I can only challenge my critics here to please go out themselves and to do their own reporting, and then write what they have seen and experienced. I have not reserved the sole position to report on these events. Anybody can do this. In this day and age of the WWW anybody can do what previously only journalists did. There is always more than one view on things, and interpretations of events can differ.

Now, this is what I’m talking about !  Let readers make their own conclusions after reading ALL sides of story presented in UNBIASED, well researched, documented by facts and evidences true information.  Unfortunately I am afraid that  we’ll have to wait for along time  for that to happen – because Thai MSM are highly partisan and biased. However notice how many  angry accusations are expressed in the comments  towards Nickmerely for attempting to provide the other side of story – which is hardly reported anywhere else !

Here are  some other  quotes from the comments to Nick’s story (mind you, Thai Media “blogs” would not encourage this kind of critisism or may not even allow it) :

… the way Thai media demonised the Red-shirt helped persuading that the violent act what provoked by the Red-shirt themselves and almost reported only part of stories on TV and newspaper that favoured the government. This is why ’some of the protesters got so mad, depressed and angry with Thai media.  May it be better for asking about the results of action by considering what exactly caused it to happen?

I hope the big media will pick up on this (but I’m not too optimistic – International media has lost interest already, and the local media printing actual reporting is just unthinkable).

Here are some more comments  (reaction from public to media bias) :

I am not a supporter of either red or yellow sides in this struggle, however, I am concerned about the bias in media coverage I see, not just in Thai press but in international media. There is a lot of news coming in – pictures videos and reports from bystanders. They are providing us with on the spot reporting which is really valuable. But I notice their comments and stories are deleted and unavailable very soon after they first appear. Really it is not necessary for those first hand accounts to be censored. We are capable of analysing their contribution for ourselves. The cover up of information creates suspicion and makes us less likely to trust traditional media

…. [There is] well documented history of Thai print and electronic media distortion since the coup of 2006 and reasons why elite vested interests wish to protect the status quo ante. The propaganda has been intense by the anti-democratic yellow shirt movement aligned with the Democrat Party…  the media (always claiming to be ethical) is caught between a continuation of having to report or distort. Read between the lines. [WOW ! This was written on Apr 13th, before my similar post on Apr 16th on the matter ! It only confirms to me once again that intelligent people “filter” the information ! ] It is only through electronic sites and unbiased western reporting that most folk can now actually see what is happening and the double-speak and mischief of Abhisit’s illicit fake “government”

… there were a lot of the media (both thai and international) there captured the scenes but only things favoured the government were reported on both TV and newspaperThere was no report to coverage any cause of how the red protesters got into that angry!! But only the action when the violent act happened. The government have total power to control the media this round with no such a call-out like attact-the-media or control-the-press shouted out of their mounth!

For Thairath’s report…  are you telling me that only the head line can tell you a full story without any kind of distortion? Thai media had such a history that they put an interesting, emoitonal headline to catch an eye but when you read the inside story… they were different!

Please do answer yourself why people attended the protest got so angry and/or depress with the media? By well cooperating with the government to present only one-side-story is such a good thing any media and journalists could do!! And answer yourself how thai media reacted when the yellow PAD protest happened last year!!

The Thai newspapers (including the English language press) and television were obviously under the absolute control of the government when it came to reporting the actual events that night

It is amazing that  there are a lot of people who have audacity attack others, accusing them of bias (as many who attacked Nick in comments) – and yet they keep silent about the too visible bias by Thai MSM, gov. and army PR  etc. (opinions of  all those who join the chorus of “official truth” and denials of the alternative information). The typical characteristic is – that they love demanding “evidences”  from those they accuse  (although as it is well known “the burden of proof rests on who accuses, not on accused” )  – while they never bother to provide the evidences themselves.


May 2, 2009 - Posted by | Anti-establishment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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