Thai media urged to focus more on fact than opinion

Thai media urged to focus more on fact than opinion

THAILAND - The Thai mainstream mass media should base their reports more on fact than opinion and partisan bias as is prevalent nowadays, Chulalongkorn University political scientist Charas Suwanmala said yesterday.

"Even when they use facts, [the media] are unreliable because they have become partisan. Many have been bought out so they can be used in the political battle," said Charas, who was formerly the dean of the university's political science faculty.

Charas made this comment at a symposium held at Chulalongkorn yesterday to discuss the trend of circulating political information. The event was held by Media Inside Out, a Bangkok-based non-governmental organisation promoting media literacy and scrutiny. He said that because of this partisanship, he only watched the Thai PBS television channel for political news and read a few newspapers, which he refused to name.

"Thais consume very little factual information from the mass media - perhaps just 5 per cent," he said.

Meanwhile, deputy Democrat Party leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot - himself a former journalist - admitted that at times it was difficult to differentiate opinion from fact in the media. This, he added, might actually be a new trend in news presentation.

On the other hand, he said, people are usually flooded with information because of the proliferation of mainstream media - particularly cable television - as well as social media. He pointed out that even Parliament had a news centre that selected and circulated vital pieces of news among MPs.

Atikuek Sawansuk, editor of the "Intelligence" programme at pro-government Voice TV, said broadcast media had the tendency to present what they thought the viewers were interested in. Therefore, well-known political talk shows like the one led by Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda on Channel 3 tended to be "superficial, without depth but interesting".

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