Major Thai News Organizations Condemned the Practice of Accepting Money from News Sources
In a significant move to uphold the sanctity of journalistic integrity, seven major Thai news organizations, including the National Press Council of Thailand and the Thai Journalists Association, have joined forces to condemn the practice of accepting money from news sources. This joint action was prompted when Pol General Surachate Hakparn, deputy commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police, admitted in an interview that he had paid journalists to cover certain news, referring to these payments as a ‘news fee’. The organizations deemed this practice a ‘serious breach of professional ethics’ and emphasized on the importance of maintaining impartiality in journalism.
‘News Fee’: A Breach of Ethics
The term ‘news fee’ coined by Pol General Surachate Hakparn, refers to payments made to journalists for covering certain news stories. This practice is seen as a direct assault on the ethics of journalism, which requires reporters to maintain impartiality and avoid bias. Accepting payment from sources fundamentally undermines the objectivity of news coverage, turning it into a paid service rather than a neutral reporting of facts. This revelation has led to widespread condemnation from leading Thai news organizations, which view it as unacceptable.
Impact on Trust and Credibility
The practice of accepting ‘news fees’ can have serious implications for the credibility of news organizations and the trust that the public places in them. If news coverage is influenced by financial transactions, it raises questions about the truthfulness and accuracy of the news being reported. The journalists’ commitment to truth and impartiality is what earns them the trust of the public. Any deviation from these principles can lead to a loss of public trust and damage the reputation of the news organizations involved.
Freedom of Speech Under Scrutiny
In an unrelated but equally significant development, Thailand’s lese majeste law has come under scrutiny. This law, which shields the Thai monarchy from criticism, has been criticized by international human rights groups as an extreme measure that infringes on freedom of speech. Notably, Arnon Nampa, a human rights lawyer and activist, was sentenced to four years in prison for allegedly insulting the monarchy in a speech during a 2020 rally. This sentence has raised serious concerns about the freedom of speech in Thailand and the effectiveness of its laws in protecting this fundamental right.
The developments in Thailand highlight the challenges that journalists face in maintaining their ethical standards and the risks involved in speaking out against powerful institutions. The condemnation of the ‘news fee’ practice by major Thai news organizations reflects their commitment to uphold the principles of journalism. On the other hand, the sentencing of Arnon Nampa under the lese majeste law raises concerns about the state of freedom of speech in the country. These events underscore the need for continuous efforts to protect journalistic integrity and freedom of speech in Thailand.
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