Media War

exposing media bias in Thailand

A stark symbol of Thai media’s bias !

photo of man dragging woman by hair won the Year’s Best Photo award.

To me  this photo and the fact that it has UNANIMOUSLY won the TOP MPA reward   is a

symbol of the  BIAS  of Thai MSM !

how cruelly bloody ironic is it  that  THIS VERY MEDIA BIAS was  the REAL reason of this the confrontation which led to the shameless act depicted by “award winning photo” :  because these 2 red-shirt women has came forward towards the line of soldiers and reporters  to voice their protest at the  BIAS of media !  instead Thai media has completely misrepresented the whole  event  AND  in its best style and tradition it has twisted the whole story in such a way that the actual reasons of why woman was so angry were left out, instead  the TOTALLY FALSE  story was cooked up by Thai Rath to present the red-shirted woman as  the personification  of the “evil and violent”  mob who want to harm the public, the man who dragged her by hair  as a champion of the civilians  who has taken it upon himself to “punish” the culprit,  and of course the  reporter of Thai Rath  as well as  his newspaper  as a a champions of “Truth” who brave the dangers of riots to bring the “honest facts” to Thai public.

now, HOW SHAMEFULL it is !

back in April I’ve already posted about the  case when one of Thailand’s largest newspapaers with name Thai Rath has published disgraceful photo of  a man dragging woman in red-shirt by hair, with soldiers and reporters staying by and observing, doing nothing to stop it. that story has been extensively followed in April and May on blog thaienews (this is just a latest their post on this matter – in APr and May there were many more), as well as on many Thai language forums and discussion boards.  well, there is  a latest update to that photo and story:  it has won the TOP award of  Thai photographers, and more – the  Thailand Primer Minister Abhisit has personally  presided over the ceremony and has  given an award to that Thai photograper.

naturally there are so many  people  on net – bloggers and readers both – who are expressing their disbelief and other appropriate reactions.

because the award winning photo  was:

1) doctored  (edited in Photoshop or whatever – some important details were taken out);

2) misrepresented the events – the caption for this photo provideed wrong information;

3) thus it has been published and used for the purpose to LIE to public  –

NOT to provide the factual information as photo-reporting supposed to;


4) in that way to deepen the social divide instead of mending it.

and the best part is that PM Abhisit, the so called “Democrat” who has ordered army to fire live ammo at protesters in April, the man who trumpets his efforts for “reconciliation and unity”  –  this man is  going to participate in this  MISLEADING event  as a person who would  give the award to DISHONEST photographer !

what can be said?  “This is Thailand”   as people in on-line forums  say, when there is no more words.

there are  many blog posts and discussions on this matter. the best summary of this  shamefull event is described on Prachathai blog :

Photo of PAD man grabbing and dragging red-shirt

woman by her hair wins Year’s Best Photo award

Despite its wrong caption, Thai Rath’s photo of a former PAD guard grabbing the hair of a red-shirt woman and dragging her along the road during the military crackdown in April has won the Best Photo of the Year Award from the Mass Media Photographers Association of Thailand (MPA). The MPA President explained it won because it is so vividly emotional that no description is necessary. Abhisit will preside over the ceremony on June 18.

On June 14, the MPA announced the results of its 13th annual contest (2008-2009). For this year, 600 photos and 46 television news clips were submitted to the contest which offered 35 prizes of about 700,000 baht in total.

The Best Photo of the Year went to the photo titled ‘Intolerablewhich captured the moment when a former yellow-shirt guard Kaweekrai Chokepatthanakasemsuk grabbed the hair of a red-shirt woman Mintra Soros, dragging her along Ratchaprarob Road on April 13 after she had reportedly reviled soldiers who were dispersing the red-shirt demonstrators. The photo was taken by Thai Rath’s crime reporter Prasith Niwesthong who will receive the King’s Cup together with a prize of 100,000 baht.

MPA President Wichai Walaphol explained that the jury decided to award the prize because the photo was outstanding and complete in terms of photographical composition captured during the melee. It can be seen in the photo that there were many photographers on the scene, but the photographer who took this photo stood in a particular spot, so he could take this unique picture. This photo is so emotionally descriptive that no description is necessary. The jurists voted for it unanimously, he said…

The ‘Intolerable’ photo was published on the front page of Thai Rath on April 14, 2009, issue, and was wrongly captioned as:

Intolerable: after the red-shirt mob resorted to the tactic of parking a gas truck near the Din Daeng

tunnel to ignite it, residents of the Din Daeng flats were enraged and gathered to clash with the mob.


It was also found that the man wearing the green t-shirt who pulled the hair of the woman was Kaweekrai Chokepatthanakasemsuk, 30, former guard of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, not a Din Daeng resident as was insinuated in Thai Rath’s report…  Kaweekrai’s camera and camera bag were deleted from the picture…

PAD guard Kaweekrai

the photo and its incorrect caption misled the public into understanding that the man was one of the residents who were resentful of the red shirts’ gas truck incident or other actions during that time, and came out to handle the ‘mob’ themselves.

It was later found out that the man was a hardcore PAD fanatic who had long been against the red shirts regardless of whatever they might do on April 13, he wrote.

Mass media photographs are part of the reportage of the facts, as are the titles and captions. This photo, therefore, does not convey the facts, but a misrepresentation and a falsehood

here is a follow up on Prachathai on this story :

One Picture is Worth a Thousand Lies

the photo was doctored… The camera and case have been photo-shopped out of the ‘complete’ award-winning picture…

But the caption was a complete fabrication in other ways. The photo was taken not at Din Daeng, but on Ratchaprarob Road and had nothing to do with the gas tankers. But that wouldn’t have fit Thai Rath’s headlines, so in the interests of award-winning journalism, the truth, sadly, had to be sacrificed.
So if he wasn’t an angry resident, who was he? And if it wasn’t connected with the gas tankers incident, what got him so ticked off?
Thai Rath didn’t bother to find out.  Thai journalistic standards don’t seem to rank establishing the facts very highly. At least not nearly as high as a nice ‘photographical composition’ that will win a prize for your criminal reporter. I mean, crime reporter.

But the internet community did find out.
It turns out that his name is Kaweekrai Chokepatthanakasemsuk and he has a Hi5 account called ‘thaksindeathsoon’. So no prizes for guessing why he thinks violence against red shirts is an absolutely cracking idea. He happens to be a PAD guard and was interviewed by the PAD propagandists who don’t seem a jot embarrassed to have a self-confessed thug on their payroll.

Now re-touching photographs for political purposes has a long and, thanks to the Mass Media Photographers Association, obviously honourable tradition in Thailand.

On October 4 1976, students at Thammasat staged a re-enactment of the hanging of 2 anti-dictatorship protestors who had been killed by the police in Nakhon Pathom. On October 5, photos of the incident, carefully re-touched to bring out a faint resemblance of one of the actors to the Crown Prince, appeared in the Bangkok press. The right-wing went ballistic at this blatant, albeit bogus, example of lèse majesté, and on October 6, dozens of students were publicly hanged, burned and mutilated and thousands were summarily carted off to jail. Or were they?

Apart from eye-witness accounts (and we all know how unreliable those can be), personal testimony (obviously self-serving), and documentary evidence from the time (easily falsified), those of us who weren’t actually present at the mayhem have relied on photographs of the lynchings.
But former Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who was there or thereabouts (he was one of the ballistic right-wingers), has claimed that only one student was killed and that was his own fault for being a communist.
(Incidentally, the police who murdered the two protestors, the newspaper editors who edited their copy with such careful deliberation, the mobs guilty of public atrocities, and even Samak himself, all escaped punishment. The only people who ended up in the cells that night were the ones protesting in the name of democracy. Thai justice seems to operate by much the same moral standards as the Thai press.)
Maybe all the photographs and footage that were supposedly shot at the time were doctored by the Thai media in a valiant attempt to win a professional award and the massacre of October 6, one of the landmarks of recent Thai history, was no such thing.
I mean, who would you rather trust? The Thai press or the word of a Prime Minister?
BP blog  writes about this :
… the photo is then, if it was not edited, deliberately misleading as all the other shots taken would have shown the camera or the camera bag and they choose the one that didn’t so they could add a distorted caption. This is simply extraordinary…
The extraordinary thing is that this photo won Best Photo of the Year Award from the Mass Media Photographers Association of Thailand (MPA), but how can an photoshopped image where some relevant details were deliberately edited out and which gained prominence because the caption stated something which was not true win such an award.
also read the comments there, here are some excerpts:
The point against this year photo is that it REPORTED FALSELY. (News photoes are there to report news too.) Not only the title of the photo and the whole caption are false, the news report that the photo was accompanying is also false. This is really unacceptable

Errol Morris on “Photography as a Weapon”
But doctored photographs are the least of our worries. If you want to trick someone with a photograph, there are lots of easy ways to do it. You don’t need Photoshop. You don’t need sophisticated digital photo-manipulation. You don’t need a computer. All you need to do is change the caption
Change the yellow labels, change the caption and you change the meaning of the photographs. You don’t need Photoshop. That’s the disturbing part. Captions do the heavy lifting as far as deception is concerned. The pictures merely provide the window-dressing. The unending series of errors engendered by falsely captioned photographs are rarely remarked on.
Bangkok Bugle blog writes :   “PHOTOSHOPPED IMAGE WINS BEST PHOTO

A doctored image that was published with an incorrect caption has won ‘Best Photo of the Year’ from the Mass Media Photographers Association of Thailand.
The image, taken by Thai Rath
a Thai Rath crime reporter, was edited to remove crucial details. Combined with an incorrect caption it’s easy to say the photograph as published was misleading.
and here is a very good comment to it, which I fully agree with :
I wonder how the PM feels about this today after being photographed with the ‘winner’.
It says a lot about journalistic standards here that a manipulated image  (and byline) have been accepted as the winner, but will this become the new accepted standard.  I’ve mentioned it before, but a common complaint from people we interview is that, when printed, the story they have contributed to hasn’t been presented correctly.  Is the saying, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story” becoming the standard in Thai journalism


June 21, 2009 - Posted by | Thai MSM | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] our  new post regarding this […]

    Pingback by Vicious assault on woman by REPORTER & Shameless Spin by “Thai Rath” ! « Media War | June 21, 2009 | Reply

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