Media Situation Report 2010

Media Situation Report 2010
By Thai Journalists Association
“Year of Difficulty for Media Works"

It is another year of difficulty for local media works as a result of divisive ideas and ideology that led up to the use of violence. The local media was being held hostages to and under pressure from the conflicting parties.
It is another year that the media was being questioned over its justice and impartiality, and who it served-- the public or any interested party-- , as quite a  number of people maintained the views that the media played a part in escalating the political conflict. It is a year that the media  was facing a great challenge in commiting itself to the principles of profesional journalism—comprehensiveness and fair allocation of  space to all conflicting parties.
As such, TJA has summerised key media trends of Year 2010 as follows:

1. Freedom to Report with Responsibility
Working under pressure of political protests by United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and the Center for Resolutions of Emergency Situation (CRES) set up subsequently by the government to control the situation, the media was facing limitation in its accurate reporting. For example, the lack of trust from the movement leaders at times has triggered conflicts and frictions between the media workers and the protesters which prevented them from doing  their perfect jobs.

2. Media Safety and Mental Remedy
The lack of trust and the mutual suspicion between them have resulted in the lack of safety in the media works. For the fist time in the history of Thai media, media workers had to wear safety protection gears to cover political conflicts. Nontheless, the violent dispersal of political protest has eventually claimed the lives of a number local and foreign media workers and injured many of them. The events left many of them with mental trama beyond remedy . A number of media workers covering the past conflicts still face with mental aftershocks and needs proper psychological treatment.

3. Maintaining Media Professionalism amid Violence
The unexpected turn of the past politcal volience caught the media works off guard, resulting in the lack of comprehensiveness in their reporting. It is vital that the local media need proper safety and professional training to prepare for coverage of future conflict situation.

4. Curtailment of Media Freedom
In view of duty of the media in conflict situation, TJA reaffirms the principle of media freedom and disavows all forms of attempts to stifle the media. At the same time, TJA calls upon all media branches to dedicate to social responsibility. While the organisation supports transparent legal actions against the media which commits an illegal acdtion, it disagrees with the use of illegal means to limit freedom of epxression and freedom of the media.

5. Political Media and State Media Play a Part in Fuelling Conclits
The past year saw a sharp growth in the number of poliical media which had a single mission to fight against opposing political views-- be there community radios, satellite-braodcasted televisions or websites. These media outlets tended to present opinions and beliefs over facts, and instigate conflicts, rift and hatred which led up to the mutual destruction of those who differ. On the contrary, state media outlets were interfered with either directly or indirectly by the state, resulting in the sanitisation of news and information in various forms. This is in addtion to the lack of clarity and due process in the state censorship against online media.

Given the afore-mentioned circumstance, TJA concludes that this is the year of difficulty for local media works. The media, therefore, should adjust to and better prepare for future conflict situation in order to do their jobs in accordance with the principles of comprehensiveness and impartiality and professional ethics.

31 December 2010
Thai Journalists Association