Thailand’s concern about media bias Part 3

When a government engages in censorship, the motives must be questioned. When a government involves itself in censorship of the media, it places the media at odds with the government and no longer is the media a neutral third party observer and a sense of bias is observed.

The closer you are to the source of the news, the more flaws or misinterpretations in the media are detected. However this is normal as each person sees different things when looking at a picture. That also is to say neither is completely wrong or completely right. What a person sees first comes from their personal life experience. A sailor would naturally focus on things familiar to sailing, where an engineer would focus on things most closely related to what an engineer looks for. That is also why different views are expressed in blog comments.

There is little doubt that many of the things Thais censor are tied to Thai pride and perhaps loss of face. The west places less value on face than the east and because of that some straight forward observations can really hurt and not necessarily provide an opportunity to reclaim the lost face. So in this respect cultural friction leads to censorship to protect face. Hiding the facts and fudging them over with some face saving version of the truth starts to create a fantasy bubble that has nothing to do with reality. From a Thai’s point of view this can easily be read as bias.

Cumulatively this ignoring of the obvious and coming up with a fantasy version of the truth that everyone is all to happy to accept tends to bring up another news story that is just as face damaging. So to talk about this, the accumulation of the perceived Thai bias is compounded.  It is clear the Thais are very sensitive to this as a result of cumulative so called bias experiences, so there is little doubt why Thailand’s defamation laws carry some of the harshest punishments in any country.

This bias perception is also intimately linked to the double standards seen in Thailand. Most if not all things in Thailand put non Thais at some sort of handicap be it prices or whatever. The desire to get even and prove to themselves that foreigners are actually stupid and will pay more is a significant self indulgent meant to recover face.  ‘A Thai would never pay that much’ is a perception to discredit what the foreigner said.

So once again the ‘Don’t worry about it’ attitude of the Thais becomes a double edge sword. For the Thais it seems a dilemma, hold on to the 100% laid back don’t worry about it attitude, or simply focus on getting to the front of the pack. One choice makes Thailand a wonderful place to get away from the places that are not laid back and full of stress, and the other choice kills that and makes Thailand no different than the rest of the world.

Trying to have both invites the media again to analyze and dissect how the Thais are going about that. Needless to say there is several more perceived bias stories as failures are published right along with the successes.

Next Part 4 of 5

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