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Looking back to the history Thai media have done till now emphasizes that Thai media never learn to be self-regulated and questioning if the Thai media have too much of freedom?

Mass Shooting in Nakhon Ratchasima: A big learning ever happened in Thai media history

Throwing back to the mass shooting crisis in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thai media action was so terrible then that they tried to publish whatever would make their news getting audience.

They seemed competing with each other which news agency would have the most-inside information, picture and video of the ongoing situation and rescue operation.

Back then, there were the videos of bloody bodies lying in the parking lot, the images of people fleeing in terror, of the mall’s food court ablaze, and gunshots, the piercing sound of gunshots including a picture of the murderer which they didn’t blur out before publishing going on everywhere in several news agencies social media platforms and the mainstream media afterwards as well.

The media workers back then didn’t care of what they had been published would violate anyone right or causing a trauma to those seeing the texts.

Moreover, what even worse was the media tried to do a live-streaming broadcasting of the rescue operation helping all victims getting out of the mall through their social media platforms, which regretfully caused the biggest damage that Thai citizens wouldn’t be able to forget until now.

The murder of three-year-old “Nong Chompoo”: A controversial case of Thai media making a murderer became a national celebrity

A murder case in 2020 received a lot of attention known as Nong Chompoo’s case. At the time, police only found the naked body of the girl without any evidence. Uncle Pon became one of the prime suspects since he was the one closest to the girl. However, he didn’t try to escape but wanted to ordain for Nong Chompoo instead.

Therefore, he had won support from netizens with the hashtag #SaveUnclePon. Moreover, he got job offers from the entertainment industry and opened a Youtube Channel with his wife.

Yet, he was a suspect, he suddenly became a superstar overnight because the media broadcasted his story all the time making him even more popular.

Unfortunately, because of the press trying too much to give a suspect spotlight, there was a backlash against him causing #BannUnclePon spread all over since people thought the media lacked code of conduct making a suspect becoming a national celebrity which, at the time, this legal case hadn’t been judged. After the police had further investigated the case, they had issued an arrest warrant toward him and the court, after, officially ordered charges against him along with his wife for helping him interfere with evidence.

As we can observe from this case, the Thai media was nonstop broadcasting about him in a way that sympathizing him and even did a show similarly to a reality show to seek his life all the time causing to a controversial situation that a suspect who actually is a murderer became a national celebrity which shouldn’t be happened anywhere.

The death of TV actress Nida “Tangmo” Patcharaveerapong: A latest case where the media fails to be self-regulated again

The latest news that everyone knows would be the death of TV actress Nida “Tangmo” Patcharaveerapong, 37-year-old Thai actress who fell into the Chao Phraya River while on a speedboat with five others.

Her death has become a talk of the town case since the day she fell of the boat until now that people were arguing if her death is a murder or only an accident which for now it appears to be an accident based on the evidence.

However, most of the people believe her death was definitely a murder and try to claim that new evidence, a CCTV footage, which came out was showing the actress had been thrown into the river even though the footage was blurry and unclear, since they completely believe it was actually a murder.

Therefore, they further believe this case must have an interference from those oligarchs, believed to be in the group of those five, having power over media and authority and wanting this case to be closed since there’s no one get arrested yet, even though this case is still on an investigation process and there’s no a final verdict confirming this case as a murder yet.

A doubt of citizens and audience criticizing the justice system and totally believing this case was a murder partly came from what media presented to them throughout the time.

As we can see that many shows on mainstream media and social media platforms brought Tangmo’s friends to be on the shows saying they believed there was something wrong and that they don’t believe if her death was an accident which matched the audience’s previous belief so making them believe even more it was actually a murder.

Then what came after is that the audience started discussing about this topic with their peers, create a bigger echo chamber and maybe, a fake news. The chaos also might affect the investigation since it still is on process.

Moreover, the media only presented one side possibility that the actress might be murdered but not a side of the others on the boat that still, they are innocent.

Why the media never learn?

As we already talk about failures of Thai media in self-regulation and that it happened several times ago, but why the media never from the past? What could be the reason?

Thai media seems to have less responsibility towards a media literacy of audience, they usually don’t scrutinize how the information they provide would affect the audience response in which way because they mostly think their duty is informing only, but not every audience in the society would have a sufficient media literacy.

Since our country doesn’t have enough powerful punishment towards the media violation but only a defamation law that a plaintiff must manage by themselves, not an authority. Plus, if there’s a case as mentioned above, the media mostly get warned but not prosecuted or withdrawn a license.

Similarly, to what mentioned above, the journalists have too much power and freedom over media in Thailand. They have a freedom to decide which news to be published, which way they would like to talk about it. It all depends on the media professionals.

Moreover, the media recently doesn’t include only journalist or media professionals but also those who have an access to spread information such as a ‘Drama-Addict’ Facebook fan page which always informing people with a trending topic. Therefore, this kind of an information provider might not need to be a media professional leading to a fact they might not know how to effectively handle the media in hands, scrutinize a code of conduct including being aware of how the information have been published would affect the audience.

What should be improved?

After talking about what the media have done, how the media have been and what could be the reason making Thai media never learn to be self-regulated so far, then what the media should do to be more self-regulated?

There should be a more powerful law towards a violation of the media

The media professionals should be withdrawn a license or should be prosecuted if they disobey the law. It might sound too harsh for someone to withdraw a career license but if we let a first-time violation go again, there would have a second and a third time following as it used to be. We could reduce a punishment for those who don’t repeat again such as return a license after a year confiscation depending on their guilt.

A power over media should be reserved for only media professionals

As what have been mentioned earlier, everyone can have an access towards the media these days. Therefore, there’s too much information flooding in society and it seems troublesome for audience to scrutinize all those information which one is trustworthy while which one isn’t.  There’ll be both good and bad employing this kind of rule. To enforce this kind of rule might make some audience afraid of a trustworthiness of media outlets if that news they provide are aiming for informing or just a propaganda. The audience might suspect of the media trustworthiness but the news, the information, still come from media professionals and there’re still a lot of media outlets for the audience to choose to consume. Therefore, maybe, for those sensitive news and topic relating to a legal matter such as a lawsuit or a murder case that every detail should be aware of, since it might affect an investigation, should be left for the professionals only to avoid a distortion of the case.

However, Thai media professionals still have more objectives to work on, the media literacy skills and digital capacity to produce high-quality accurate content that educate readers and does not inform them with fake news, rumors and hearsay. On the other hand, the audience themselves should learn the media literacy and a self-regulation as well since the people who could be able to spread the news are not only the media professionals but also us, the people in society.

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