A tale of two newspapers: Media unprofessional or under pressure?

A tale of two newspapers: The same event? - June 27, 2005
Was this the same event? The Nation reports on a "seminar on the state of Thai media freedom" at Chula while the Post reports on "an event to mark the 25th anniversary of the Confederation of Thai Journalists"--both occurring last Friday.
The Post article is about a deputy PM criticizing the professionalism of the Thai press. The Nation quotes government critics who lambaste state pressure on the media.

Surakiart: Thai press lacks professionalism - 'Constructive news always overlooked' - Bangkok Post, June 26, 2005
The Thai press creates a bad image of Thailand for the rest of the world by focusing more on the negatives rather than the positives, said Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai.
Speaking at an event to mark the 25th anniversary of the Confederation of Thai Journalists on Friday, Mr Surakiart said the press in general needed to promote constructive activities rather than critical news and analysis. ``Foreign newspapers carry news that projects both the good and bad, but for Thai media the negatives outweigh the positives,'' said the former foreign affairs minister.
Mr Surakiart said that throughout his time as foreign minister Thailand was involved in various international projects, held numerous seminars and acted as a mediator for countries in conflict.
But, he said, the Thai media overlooked those accomplishments and instead dwelled on rumours of the government's failures in organising the proceedings.
" In countries with press freedom like the Philippines, the US and countries in Europe, they [the media] all carry more constructive news than ours,'' he said.
" Foreign media on some occasions praised Thailand for a job well done but the Thai media did not even report on the events,'' he said.
Mr Surakiart, who is also running for the United Nations secretary-general's post, said various embassies translate Thai newspapers into their mother tongue and the negative reporting hurt the country's image. The deputy prime minister also accused the Thai media of being inaccurate and sensational, and said there was a low level of professionalism in Thai journalism.
"Facts need to be correct before an analysis is made,'' he said.
The Thai media, said Mr Surakiart, did not know what "off the record'' meant and therefore could not be trusted with some important tactical information.

Discontent growing over media control - The Nation, June 25, 2005
...Earlier yesterday, the Faculty of Communication Arts held its annual seminar on the state of Thai media freedom, referring to the present era as a dark time for press freedom and urged media reforms to be put on the national agenda.
Prasong Lertrattanawisut, the deputy managing editor of the Matichon newspaper, said Thaksin has become efficient and systematic in controlling the Thai media. “Everyone will have to question [the current state of press freedom] with reason,” he said, referring to the government’s alleged indirect control of media outlets through shareholders, advertisements and other means.
“What we are facing now may best be described as ‘manufactured consent’,” said Pit Pongsawat, a political scientist from Chulalongkorn University. “It makes us think of small issues as big issues and big issues as small issues.”
Chaiyan Chiyaporn, another Chulalongkorn political scientist, alleged that the Thaksin administration hired a large number of students to scrutinise various websites and respond with counter attacks to those criticising the government.
Another method used to control the social agenda is manufacturing news to occupy the public’s imagination and distract the public from important issues affecting the government, said Ruj Komolbutr, a lecturer in journalism at Thammasat University.

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