To stay relevant in the social media era, professional media need to build trust and be more accountable and proficient while promoting media literacy to children and the young generation, a seminar heard yesterday.
The only difference between the professional media and citizen reporters, if any, is credibility," said Suthichai Yoon, chairman of Nation Multimedia Group.
The seminar also discussed Thai media's need to have a strong self-regulatory body.
Suthichai said professional media nowadays need the "three Ts" for creative communication - technology, which they use for their work and to build trust while ensuring transparency.
The seminar on "Revolution of News People, Revolution of the Media" was held to mark the launch of celebrations for the Thai Journalists Association's 60th anniversary on March 5 next year.
Pirongrong Ramasoota Rananand, a journalism lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, said one important role of journalists in the modern era might not be news seeking but verification of information.
Suthichai said a consolidated media self-regulatory organisation is necessary, and it should also reach out to and cover alternative media.
A new professional code of conduct should be drafted, he said.
There should be only one agency tasked with and accepted for the regulation of all media channels, he said.
Currently, there are many professional media organisations and regulatory bodies, including the National Press Council of Thailand (NPCT) for newspapers and the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand for broadcast media.
Any external body authorised to regulate the media might open the chance for intervention in content, Suthichai said.
The public would help examine the work of the media and put pressure on outlets that fail to join as a member of the regulatory agency, he said.
"Within two minutes of making a mistake on Twitter, so many people mentioned and corrected my tweet," he said.
Wasan Paileeklee, a former president of MCOT Plc and now a member of the National Reform Council (NRC), proposed a co-regulation system.
The idea of media self-regulation was ideal and should be the first step, but there should be another legally authorised committee or agency as a backup in case the self-regulation step fails.
For example, in the past some media companies quit the NPCT as they refused to allow the NPCT to investigate their employees' conduct.
"It's important that the media are accountable. Many people see the media as always calling for press freedom but they are not responsible," he said.
Pirongrong said she agreed that when it comes to news, the media should regulate itself or there might be interference in content.
Pirongrong, who is a member of an NPCT panel, said the public knows too little about the NPCT or whom they can approach to report media misconduct, so newspapers should publish the statement and provide an address for readers to send their complaints to the NPCT.
'Advertorials should be marked'
Saree Aongsomwang, secretary-general of the Foundation for Consumers and now also an NRC member, said there should be a law requiring companies or state enterprises to declare their sponsorship to the media.
The media should make clear that any sponsored article must be labelled as an "advertorial".
The media should pay more attention to and cover stories that would make a difference in society.
"The media can lead society. They must make the public see we can have a better quality of life," she said.
Public transport and environmental issues are examples of topics the media should cover without concern for their business.
On-usa Lamliengpol, president of the Advertising Association of Thailand and another NRC member, said advertising in the media was still preferred to social media as they have measurable ratings and circulation. The brands and credibility of the media were built through character.
Suthichai also proposed that professional media organisation provide intensive training for journalists as well as promote strong labour unions to counterbalance media capitalists.