Thailand’s concern about media bias Part 4

When the media becomes part of the news itself, the ability to be impartial simply disappears without a trace. The journalists become part of the story and they will do as any human would, and that is to defend their position.

When a journalist is singled out for whatever reason, a series of red flags goes up. It does not matter if that journalist works for CNN or is just a blogger, someone does not like what was said. Many of the less savory people in places of power simply hate to look at their reflection in the mirror. When they realize they are the black blemish in a lineup, they simply go after the messenger with the glass cleaner that pointed that out.

This behavior is not unique to Thailand, and many other countries demonstrate extreme prejudice making Thailand look tame by comparison. Countries where this is common frequently have dictators. They would look to jail or kill the journalist thus permanently censoring that particular problem. There are many bloggers serving jail time as you read this.

Web boards have also fallen prey to the Thai censors, but there is a second side to this. Some posters are simply malicious and overtly negative. In that case the objectiveness of a journalist is lost in some personal vendetta and becomes ranting and ravings that resembles some sort of psychotic behavior.  For that fact, there are no tabloid type publications in Thailand because Thais do their best to put the emphases on the positive and not the negative.

In this case coming down on people who are malicious is not unique to Thailand, other countries regularly screen web boards and websites for defamation and violations of laws. To be honest nobody likes negative people no matter where they are from. The focus on the undistorted truth becomes a universal calling from both the Thai government as well as the media. The problem is who decides where that fine line between truth and distortion or propaganda is drawn.

In the case of the anti government Red Shirts in Thailand, almost all of what they say is propaganda and it is geared for the lesser educated Thais. For the most part anyone who is educated can quickly conclude it is anti government propaganda because what is being said makes absolutely no sense at all and has little to do with facts. So because of this it is understandable why the Thai government or any respectable government for that fact would want to silence propaganda. The feeling is put out the truth and let people decide themselves, and this is the core principle of journalism.

However sometimes feelings and heart felt intent fall short of the mark, and a journalist that would point this out is not necessarily anti government, and that is where some of the friction lies as well. Every athlete who attends the Olympics has their heart set on the Gold Medal, but that is only achievable by the very best.

In the situation of the dispersal of the Red Shirt anti government group’s occupation in downtown Bangkok on May 19, 2010, things can and perhaps did very quickly go wrong in the heat of battle. Although the deviation from plan may not be deliberate, it is reportable and a journalist to report on this again is not anti Thai or anti Thai government. But as it would be some Thais do not see it that way.

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