'Judgemental' Thai press comes under fire

'Judgemental' Thai press comes under fire

Judgemental news reporting and a lack of critical thinking among members of the media remain key factors hindering quality development within the Thai press, a seminar was told.

Subjective views in news coverage have led to human rights violations by the Thai media, Ticha Na Nakorn, a respected human rights advocate said yesterday at a seminar organised by Amnesty International Thailand.

Concerning the murder case in which a male teen from Chaiyaphum, nicknamed "Mu Yong", was convicted for murdering a 25-year-old university student, for instance, Miss Ticha said the media chose to present only his dark side.

She said the media portrayed Mu Yong as materialistic and without empathy. They should have dug deeper, she said. The teen reportedly told police he killed the student because he wanted to get the victim's car and sell it to buy a big bike he had wanted for a long time, according to media reports at the time.

The media, in this case, should have acted critically by presenting another side to the stories such as finding the motivation and examining factors responsible for the crime instead of dwelling on violence and sensational details, said Ms Ticha. She said she had visited the incarcerated Mu Yong and obtained additional information that shows another side of his personality -- among them an impressive study record.

"This information was not reported by the media which only portrayed him as a villain, although he actually wanted to enter the monkhood as a way of atoning for his sin of murdering the victim," she said.

This was not reported by the media either, according to Ms Ticha, who urged more balanced coverage in such matters. "Such dark media coverage of a criminal suspect reflects the fact that Thai society is not going anywhere when it comes to promoting critical thinking, which is a key role of the media," she said.

Sangkama Sarawat, from Silpakorn University's Faculty of Information and Communication Technology, who used to be a Government House reporter, said many headlines are still subjective opinions.

In recent media reports about a TV series that featured a romantic relationship between two teenage boys, most headlines used were negative towards the series, she said.

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