Two years in prison for Thai citizen journalists

Two years in prison for Thai citizen journalists

The press freedom map, which is distributed in print and digital versions, offers a visual overview of the situation in each country in the Index. The colour categories are assigned as follows: good (white), fairly good (yellow), problematic (orange), bad (red) and very bad (black).
The press freedom map, which is distributed in print and digital versions, offers a visual overview of the situation in each country in the Index. The colour categories are assigned as follows: good (white), fairly good (yellow), problematic (orange), bad (red) and very bad (black).

Thailand's ranking in World Press Freedom for 2017 falls 6 places to 142nd in world, as new law puts citizen journalists without license in jail for two years.


Two years in prison for Thai citizen journalists

Online Reporters

In Thailand, journalists and news reporters will soon be required to have a licence from the government to do their jobs or face a prison term of up to two years or a fine of not more than 60,000 baht, or both.

This is according to the latest version of the media "reform" bill to be proposed by a "reform" panel.

Stiff penalties have been added to the proposed new law.

A journalist who fails to get a licence by the set deadline will face a  possible two years in jail and a fine 60,000 baht fine. 

His company, agency or organisation will also face the same penalty to prevent cases where a reporter who is fired from one place goes to work for another.

Police Major General Pisit Pao-in, deputy chairman of the mass media panel at the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA), said on Wednesday his committee would submit the revised bill on the "protection of rights and freedom" and "promotion of ethics and professional standards of mass media" to the NRSA for consideration on May 8-9.


He added licensing shouldn't be a problem with old media --- newspapers, radio and TV -- but it won't be easy with new media.

"We define reporters as those who have the intention and continuity in reporting news to the public and earn direct or indirect revenue from doing so. The National Mass Media Professional Council will draft the details," he said, referring to the yet-to-be set up council, another contentious element of the new law.

"If they meet these criteria, they will be regarded as media."

"These include websites such as, or news apps on the Line platform," he said.

Clearly excluded is citizen journalism which is defined as "the collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the Internet" through YouTube and small websites, and is a key part of the "new media" which accounts for a ever-growing share of news as conventional news outlets fall in profitability and cease operations (see here & here). It is also true that most media companies are located in Bangkok and typically cannot carry as much provincial news with their limited resources.

Asked whether the NRSA would revise the bill in the wake of strong opposition by the media, Mr Pisit said this was not news to him.

The 30 established mass media organisations in Thailand are against the new law.


This week, Thailand’s ranking on the World Press Freedom Index for 2017 has dropped another six notches to 142nd in the world.

This is according to the latest report compiled by international non-profit organisation Reporters Without Borders (check out the index here & the Thailand page here)

The report said Thailand's score rose to 44.69 points, up by 0.16 points from 44.53 in 2016.

The lower the score, the freer the press.

In the analysis of 180 countries, Norway had the greatest press freedom, while North Korea was at the bottom.


The report noted that Thailand is ruled by a military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

“Ubiquitous, all-powerful, and led by press freedom predator Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the council keeps journalists and citizen journalists under permanent surveillance, often summons them for questioning, and detains them arbitrarily,” the report said.


The report said any criticism of the junta is liable to lead to violent reprisals made possible by draconian legislation and a justice system that follows orders.

It said the already feared Computer-Related Crime Act was reinforced in 2016, giving authorities even more surveillance and censorship powers (read today's article on new police wiretapping powers here).

Compared to countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand (142) is in the middle.

The rankings of other Asean countries that are better than Thailand are: Indonesia (124), Philippines (127), Myanmar (131), Cambodia (132),

The rankings that are worse than Thailand are: Malaysia (144), Singapore (151), Brunei (156), Laos (170) and Vietnam (175).

From Norris, Pippa. 2012. "The watchdog role of journalists: Rottweilers, Alsatians or Poodles?." Oxford Handbook of Public Accountability. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[Note on above diagram: The diagram describes the positive feedback loop of watchdog journalism on citizens and government officials, a process in which "citizen journalists" play an increasingly important role, citizen journalists would be outlawed and punished by prison in the upcoming law), diagram taken from Norris, Pippa. 2012. "The watchdog role of journalists: Rottweilers, Alsatians or Poodles?." Oxford Handbook of Public Accountability. Oxford: Oxford University Press, download and read paper for free here].

The criteria evaluated in the questionnaire that Reporters Without Borders used include pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.

From the global perspective, the World Press Freedom map (at the top of the page) is getting darker and the situation has worsened in nearly two thirds (62.2%) of the 180 countries in the index.

The colour categories are assigned as follows: good (white), fairly good (yellow), problematic (orange), bad (red) and very bad (black).

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  • according to (prep): as stated or reported by somebody/something - ตามคำบอกเล่า, ตามรายงาน
  • adj (noun): connected with soldiers or the armed forces - ในทางทหาร,เกี่ยวกับทหาร
  • agency (noun): a company or organisation that arranges for some service or workers to be provided to other companies and people - บริษัทตัวแทน, สำนักงานตัวแทน, หน่วยงานบริการ
  • analysis: the detailed study or examination of something in order to understand more about it; the result of the study - การวิเคราะห์
  • arbitrarily (adv): using power without restriction and without considering other people - อย่างถืออำนาจ
  • border: the official line separating two areas, regions or countries - เขตแดน อาณาเขต
  • case: a particular situation or a situation of a particular type - กรณี, เหตุการณ์, สถานการณ์
  • censorship: removing the parts of a book, film/movie, internet content, etc. that are considered to be offensive, immoral or a political threat - การเซ็นเซอร์, การตรวจสอบสื่อต่างๆ เพื่อตัดส่วนที่ไม่เหมาะสมออก
  • chairman: the person in charge of a committee, a company, etc - ประธาน
  • citizen journalist: a person doing "citizen journalism" when ordinary non-journalist "citizens" play an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information. (Source: Wikipedia) -
  • committee: a group of people who are chosen, usually by a larger group, to make decisions or to deal with a particular subject - คณะกรรมการ
  • compile: to collect information from different places and arrange it in a book, report or list - รวบรวม
  • consideration: giving careful thought to something before making a decision - การคิดพิจารณา
  • contentious: causing or likely to cause disagreement - ซึ่งโต้เถียงกัน, ซึ่งเป็นที่ถกเถียงกัน
  • continuity: the fact of not stopping or not changing - ความต่อเนื่องกัน
  • council: a group of people chosen to give advice, make rules, do research, provide money - สภา, คณะกรรมการ
  • criteria: a standard that is used for judging something or for making a decision about something - บรรทัดฐาน
  • deadline: a time or day by which something must be done - เส้นตาย
  • define: to describe clearly and exactly what something is - กำหนด, ระบุ, ทำให้ชัดเจน
  • deputy: a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง
  • details: a small part of a picture or painting; the smaller or less important parts of a picture, pattern, etc. when you consider them all together - ส่วนเล็กๆ น้อยๆ, ส่วนย่อย
  • detain: to keep someone in a police station or prison and not allow them to leave - กักตัว ควบคุมตัวหรือฝากขัง
  • draconian: extremely strict and severe - เข้มงวด,ทารุณ
  • draft: to write a document, plan, etc. that may be changed before it is finally accepted - ร่าง
  • element: an important basic part of something complicated, for example a system or plan - องค์ประกอบ, ส่วนประกอบ
  • established: be in a successful position over a long period of time - มีตำแหน่งที่มั่นคง
  • ethics: a set of principles people use to decide what is right and what is wrong - จริยธรรม
  • fire: to make someone leave their job, sometimes as a punishment - ไล่ออก
  • freedom: the state of not being a prisoner - อิสรภาพ, เสรีภาพ
  • in the wake of: happening after an event or as a result of it - สืบเนื่องมาจาก
  • index: a number that shows the price, value, or level of something compared with something else - ดัชนี
  • intention: a plan in your mind to do something - ความตั้งใจ เจตนา แผนการ
  • international: connected with or involving two or more countries - นานาชาติ, สากล, ระหว่างประเทศ
  • journalist: a person who writes news stories or articles for a newspaper or magazine or broadcasts them on radio or television - ผู้สื่อข่าว
  • junta: a group of military officers that governs a country, usually without having been elected - รัฐบาลทหาร
  • justice system: judicial system; a country’s court system - ระบบศาลยุติธรรม
  • latest (adj): newest; most recent - ] ล่าสุด, See also: ทันสมัยที่สุด, เกิดหลังสุด
  • legislation: a law or set of laws suggested by a government and made official by a parliament - กฎหมาย, การออกกฎหมาย
  • licence: an official document that gives someone permission to do or use something - ใบอนุญาต
  • mass media: media that reaches large numbers of people such as TV or newspaper or on the web -
  • media: newspapers, television, radio, etc. - สื่อ
  • national (adjective): for the whole country - แห่งชาติ, ของชาติ
  • National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) (noun): The military-installed group ruling Thailand following the 2014 coup d'état - คณะรักษาความสงบแห่งชาติ
  • National Reform Steering Assembly (noun): (NRSA) the Thai government body in charge of finalizing action plans for national reforms - สภาขับเคลื่อนการปฏิรูปประเทศ
  • non-profit (adj): without the aim of making a profit (earning money for a company, yourself) - ซึ่งไม่มุ่งหวังผลกำไร
  • notch (noun): a level on a scale, often marking quality or achievement - อันดับ, ระดับ
  • note: to notice or pay careful attention to something - สังเกต
  • opposition: of a political party that is not part of the government or a group which is against the government - ฝ่ายค้าน  ผู้ต่อต้าน
  • order (noun): something that somebody is told to do by somebody in authority - คำสั่ง
  • panel: a group of people who make decisions or judgments - คณะกรรมการ
  • penalty: a punishment, or the usual punishment, for doing something that is against a law - โทษ
  • permanent: happening or existing for a long time or for all time in the future - ถาวร  
  • platform (noun): a type of media or way of distributing information , e.g., websites, newspapers, magazines, video, etc. -
  • power (noun): political control of a country or an area; having a lot of influence and authority to control people and situations - อำนาจ
  • predator: an animal that kills and eats other animals - ผู้ล่า
  • prison term: a length of time someone is required to stay in prison - ระยะเวลาที่จำคุก
  • professional: a person who does a job that needs special training and a high level of education - ผู้เชี่ยวชาญในวิชาชีพ,ผู้มีวิชาชีพ
  • promotion: activities done in order to increase the attendance at an event or sales of a product or service - การส่งเสริม
  • proposed: suggested as an idea for a group to consider - ถูกเสนอ
  • protection: the act of protecting somebody/something; the state of being protected - การอารักขา, การปกป้อง
  • questioning: when the police asks a person questions in the investigation of a crime -
  • ranking: the position of somebody/something on a scale that shows how good or important they are in relation to other similar people or things, especially in sport - อันดับ
  • refer: to mention someone or something - อ้างถึง, อ้างอิง
  • reform: a change that is intended to correct a situation that is wrong or unfair - การแก้ไข การปฏิรูป
  • regard: to consider or have an opinion about something or someone - เห็นว่า,ถือว่า
  • regard as: to consider to be - ถือว่า
  • reinforced: made stronger - เสริมให้แข็งแรงขึ้น
  • reporters (noun): people whose job is to write articles or make broadcasts about events in the news - ผู้สื่อข่าว, นักข่าว
  • reprisal: something unpleasant that is done to punish someone because of something bad they have done to you - การตอบโต้ด้วยกำลังทหาร
  • require: to make somebody do or have something, especially because it is necessary according to a particular law or set of rules - บังคับใช้ (กฎหมาย) กำหนด
  • revenue: income from taxes or business activities - รายได้
  • revise: to change, improve, or make additions to something - แก้ไข
  • rights: the legal right to control the production and selling of a book, play, film, photograph, piece of music, performance, etc. - ลิขสิทธิ์
  • score (verb): get points or score that shows how good it is - ทำแต้ม, ทำคะแนน (ในการแข่งขัน)
  • set up: to create something or start it - ตั้งขึ้น
  • standards: rules for behaving which should be obeyed - มาตรฐาน, บรรทัดฐาน, กฎเกณฑ์, กรอบ
  • stiff (adj): strong, strict - แข็งแรง,รุนแรง, เข้มงวด
  • submit: to formally give something to someone so that can make a decision about it - ยื่น (เอกสาร) เพื่อการพิจารณา
  • summon: to officially order someone to come to a place - เรียกตัว
  • surveillance: the process of carefully watching a person or place that may be involved in a criminal activity - การตรวจตรา
  • the public: people in general - ประชาชน, สาธารณชน, มหาชน
  • ubiquitous: found everywhere, existing everywhere -
  • version: a particular form of something which varies slightly from other forms of the same thing - ชุด, เวอร์ชั่น
  • wiretapping: the act of secretly listening to other people's telephone conversations by attaching a device to the telephone line - การดักฟัง
  • yet-to-be: do not know or have not decided, will be in the future -
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