Monday, 1 September 2008

On Journalism

On 28 August 2008, Sanitsuda Ekachai blogged in the Bangkok Post on "Media and Demagogues" and had things to say that we (that includes journalists) are well advised to consider when consuming our daily diet of news. Although she writes in regards to the present political turmoil in Thailand, the media elsewhere are not different. It is rare that one comes across such readable and succinct analysis. Here's my favourite excerpt:

One privilege of my having grey hair has been the chance to watch changes in journalism over the years.

The early generation of journalists were primarily intellectuals and free-spirited fighters against military dictatorship.

Despite the poor income and unstable career, journalists enjoyed public respect because their dream for justice and democracy struck a chord with the populace.

As politics and the economy opened up, the mass media grew to become big business. Ironically, the more stable journalism became as a profession, the more was the media's tendency to play safe to protect business interests at the cost of the ideology of old.

Reporting anger from the ground against state and business power, for example, is seen as one-sided. Giving meaning to the news is seen as losing neutrality.

Most newsrooms are happy with ping-pong journalism, unable to tell readers what is really going on. Media neutrality is reduced to mean merely quoting both supporters and opponents.

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