Putting the Periphery at the Center of the Conversation: Re-examining the Thai Media Landscape
Media freedoms and freedom of expression in Thailand are under increasing pressure through legal frameworks and in daily practice. Multiple challenges to a flourishing media are compounding an already shrinking civic space for the free and safe exchange of ideas and debate, allowing social cohesion challenges often at the local level to go unheard or fester, or encouraging misinformation.
Thailand has a vibrant media sector. Nonetheless, studies show how most media, especially mainstream media, have a tendency towards event-oriented reporting and over-rely on sources from the state, social or political elites. Well-rounded, triangulated, and in-depth reporting using primary sources which seeks to explain the complexity of events and motivations by including a range of perspectives, receives minimal news space. As a result, many vulnerable and marginalized parties are left behind, while simplified stereotypes are encouraged.
A lack of security is a further challenge, particularly for women. Violence against journalists is often not investigated. Physical and verbal harassment of female reporters, including via online platforms, are noted as a risk to press freedom. Journalists in the Southern Border Provinces or those undertaking investigative journalism on state power and interest groups, such as resource disputes, often face harassment, lawsuits, and arbitrary detention. Independent and online journalists – not formally recognized by authorities or protected by organizations – are particularly vulnerable.
Against a background of highly Bangkok-centric news, a new generation from the margins are asking legitimate questions about economic and social inequalities, freedom of expression, community conflicts, uneven applications of justice. Many youths turn to online journalism to tell stories of their region, including many young women, who now have a revitalized appetite in journalism, embracing regionalism and greater civic engagement.
This event launches an 18-month programme – supported by the Embassies of the Netherlands, Finland, and New Zealand, as well as UNDP and UNESCO – aimed at developing and nurturing a Thailand-wide grassroots network of some 50 young, predominantly female citizen reporters to sustainably produce positive authentic investigative content in safety. The aim is to help shine a people-centered and gender sensitive light on local social cohesion challenges, economic and social inequalities, issues around justice, and community-level conflicts.
Citizen+ and The Foundation for Isaan Education and Popular Media (FIEPM) are delighted to invite media professionals to discuss the challenges facing the media sector in Thailand today, and to engage with these up-and-coming young citizen journalists, mostly young women, from around the country. The event will present and discuss research on the Thai Media Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities, including a focus on smaller independent operators. Experts will discuss the future of Thai media, the importance of Journalism that Builds Bridges, and why the Regions need to be better heard.
Event date and time:
Friday 4 November 2022, from 10.00 hrs to 16.30 hrs
Multi-function room, First floor, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC)
10.00–11.00 Session #1
- Introduction to Journalism that Builds Bridges project (JBB), by Dr Nirun Pitakwatchara, Chairperson, FIEPM
- Special Comment on impunity and safety of journalists, by Mr Joe Hironaka, Chief, Communication and Information (CI) Unit, UNESCO Bangkok
- Comments by H.E Mr Remco van Wijngaarden, Ambassador of the Netherlands
- Comments by H.E. Mr Jyri Järviaho, Ambassador of Finland
- Comments by H.E. Jonathan Kings, Ambassador of New Zealand
- Presentation and discussion of research results, ‘Thai Media Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities’ by Asst Prof Phansasiri Kularb, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University
- MC: Teeranai Charuvastra, Journalist, Prachatai English
11.15–13.00 Session #2: ‘In the Thai Media Landscape: Where to go next?’
- Mr Somkiat Juntursima, Director, Public Engagement & Development Partnership Department, ThaiPBS
- Ms Orapin Hetrakul, Secretary-General, Society of Online News Providers (SONP)
- Mr Nattaravut Muangsuk, Thai Media for Democracy Alliance (DemAll)
- Mr Mongkol Bangprapa, Thai Journalist Association (TJA)
- Prof Pirongrong Ramasootaa, National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC)
Moderator: Mr Panu Wongcha-um, President, The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT)
13.40–16.30 Session #3: ‘Why Journalism needs to build bridges, Why Regions need to be heard’
- Ms Jomquan Lhaopett, Anchor (former), ThaiRath TV
- Mr Ruslan Musor, Editor-in-Chief, Wartani
- Mr Teerapon Anmai, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Ubon Ratchathani University
- Mr Watcharapol Nakkasem, Editor-in-Chief, Lanner
- Mr Tewarit Maneechai, Editor-in-Chief, Prachatai
- Dr Samatcha Nilaphatama, Faculty of Communication Sciences, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus
- Asst. Prof. Phattar Burarak, School of Management and Information Sciences, University of Phayao
Moderator: Ms Hathairat Phaholtap, Editor-in-Chief, The Isaan Record
Note: Discussions will be in English and Thai, with interpretation.