Cave drama prompts media curbs calls

Cave drama prompts media curbs calls

Journalists were penned up (reporters seated on the ground, foreground, cameras to their rear) four kilometres from the cave entrance and were given 'approved' information at briefings like the above by mission coordinator Narongsak Osotthanakorn. (AP photo)
Journalists were penned up (reporters seated on the ground, foreground, cameras to their rear) four kilometres from the cave entrance and were given 'approved' information at briefings like the above by mission coordinator Narongsak Osotthanakorn. (AP photo)

A standardised procedure is needed to screen reporters who cover sensitive news, a seminar on the lessons learned from the media coverage of the Tham Luang cave rescue was told.

Various concerns were raised at the forum by both news associations and the public regarding human rights, children's rights and the right to privacy, which were seen as being infringed over the last two weeks in Chiang Rai.

The event in Bangkok on Wednesday was hosted by the National Press Council of Thailand, the Thai Journalists Association, and the Online News Providers Association.

The behaviour of the Thai media came under fire after a photograph showed a drone belonging to a local news agency flying near a helicopter that was being used to evacuate the boys freed from the cave complex on Sunday.

There were also complaints about the media intercepting radio communications during the rescue operation that involved more than 1,000 personnel and volunteers from many countries including the United Kingdom and Australia. The event drew intense media interest.

"Disruptive technology makes it necessary for reporters to reconsider their approach. Speed sometimes jeopardises clarity and accuracy of information. We must examine events where the legality and ethics of journalism are tested and questioned," said Supinya Klangnarong, a former advocate for press freedom who is currently president of the Office of the Media Consumer Protection Board of the National Press Council of Thailand.

"This is the first time we have tested the [media] zoning model, which is an international standard and which physically helps control where the news can and should be covered," Ms Supinya said.

"Human rights, rights to privacy and the rights of children must be understood by all reporters, and they should act as crucial indicator of the dos and don'ts in conducting a report," she added.

The public's sensitivity to ethical issues should also not be overlooked, said Warat Karuchit, a nominated committee member of the Thai Media Fund and a media academic at the National Institute of Development Administration.

"We lack understanding in the media industry of the needs of consumers," Mr Warat said.

"In times of crisis, people demand speedy information and something new, and sometimes reporters are willing to undermine journalistic ethics to meet that demand. There is discussion now about deploying new strategies and methods to screen the quality of current and future news reporters in Thailand through new sets of requirements," he said.


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