Journalists flee Thai protest site as police crack down

Journalists flee Thai protest site as police crack down

BANGKOK - Dozens of journalists yesterday afternoon fled for their lives as police heavily cracked down on protesters.

They did so through many gates of the Bangkok Youth Centre (Thai-Japan) aka the Thai-Japanese Stadium.

Awareness and observation are life-saving instincts for journalists covering a riot.

For at least five years Thailand has hosted anti-government rallies and several of them had escalated into bloody battles between protesters and police.

Members of the media have a duty to report the news, so many times they are in danger. They get injured during clashes, such as the latest exchange of fire at the Thai-Japan Stadium yesterday when three people were shot by rubber bullets and several were hurt by tear gas.

Komlai Mompanow, an ASTV reporter, said that every time she is assigned to report news in a riot situation, she prepared safety attire.

"We don't know what will happen, so we should be alert and observant all the time. And every time at a protest site I look for emergency exits," she said.

"Field journalists should walk in an open area, because you never know when police or protesters will throw something or shoot at someone."

Jackaphong Kongkarn-chanapas, a Daily News photographer, said "safety first" was his motto.

"Even if you want to get the best picture but you aren't safe, then it's not the best picture for you," he said.

Jackaphong bought a tear-gas mask at the Klong Tom market out of his own pocket for his own safety.

Every time he is on the ground he looks for escape routes and assesses the situation between police and protesters.

"For safety I always stand with the side with the advantage," he said.

Jeera Klinhom, a Naew Na lensman, also said he had to estimate minute by minute which side he should stand with. But if the situation gets too out of hand he will remove himself from that spot.

Nuttaton Panpionchuen, a cameraman for TV Channel 3, said that whenever he worked at a protest site he prepared safeguards such as a tear-gas mask to protect himself.

His job is to shoot video, so he can zoom when he records something.

"Technology can help us to be safe so I don't have to walk near the fighting," he said.

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