Letters to the Guardian, CNN, BBC, & All Media
( Last edit 2010-05-20 )
Dear Ben Doherty and Sam Jones, The Guardian
My name is Deekana Tipchanta, a PhD Politics candidate... We are running a group called “Anti-Red Shirt International”... The goal of our group is to act as a channel of communications for the Thais overseas, Thais who communicate in English and foreigners who are interested in Thailand’s current political situations. We realize that a lot of international news has often gotten lost in the newpapers. Besides, much of what happens is sensitive, unique and cultural that it takes long-term experiences or sincere in-depth discussions with the locals who really know what is happening and are good at intercultural communications.
As I was researching for latest news of the 13th-15th May clashes in Bangkok both for my own understanding and for reporting on our group page, I came across a number of your articles on the Guardian. As reputable as the papers is, I was shocked to see how biased most relevant reports on Thailand are. I am not going to go into details here as I hope we can have direct contacts in future. However, here are few examples.
- VDO and photos: These are biased and one-sided, showing soldiers shooting at people. The caption of the pictures is also incorrect. Let me clarify that the bullets used are rubber bullets. The soldiers will not shoot above the knees and unless the targets are clear. Life bullets are only allowed to use for self-defence. Any deaths are subjected for court investigations. And many dead and injured are soldiers but none of these are mentioned on your articles. There are numerous public announcements for those who do not wish to fight to leave. The government also gives them time (days) and explains explicitly what they have to do. All government actions are also subjected to international human rights standards as witnessed, recorded and approved by civil societies in sites. The red-shirt movements are also declared by the court as a terrorist movement and the government has every right in their power to disperse them. Instead, the government opts to use non-violent approaches for solutions to set this as a standard for future. There are a large number of people (over 20% of total populations) who like to see serious crackdown for fast recovery. However, the government takes their stand in non-violence. The red-shirt protesters have killed civilians, and seized business areas. At least half a million of the Thais are affected by these protests and wish them disappear. This is the view of the people and the government is doing their best to solve this crisis.
- Titles: “Three Killed as Thai Troops Fire on Redshirts” and “Thailand Rejects Call for Negotiations” are examples of biased titles. These put readers already on the wrong mindset.
There is much more explanation I could make. I would however be na?ve to say that you do not already know these details. I would like to urge you to report justly. The country and the people’s wellbeing are in your hand. What you say and write is very powerful and can be either totally destructive or beneficial to millions of people... I understand that a lot of misinformation is due to lack of English publicity...
I will post the update of this email on our page as well as put a link on other ones of the same genre...
Looking forward to hearing from you.
How Thaksin Cheats On Media
Minotor Minotorous posted on "Anti-Red Shirt International" FB page (17 May 2010)
As regular CNN viewers, may we speak out to you that your quality of reporting of the Bangkok incident lately have let us down. It seems the journalists are inaccurate on their reports for the ongoing acts of violence by the red shirt protesters in Bangkok. Your reportings are obviously contradicting to the ones reported by most of the local ... See Morenewspaper and other foreign correspondence. Some facts have deliberately been omitted to distort the real situation in the city. This also extents to your explainer articles in CNN.com. Examples are as follows...
1. There hardly is any report from CNN of violent harassment on ordinary citizens by the red shirts. This can be seen on the daily lives of people living or working in the area of the demonstration.
Ex-pats in Thailand make a sarcastic report by the name of Can Rivurs for DNN.
2. There is almost no information shown that the army is mainly using rubber bullets to quell the protesters. Had live ammunitions been used, the number of casualties would have been enormous. Also pictures portraying the use of weapons by the redshirt have not been shown, which is contrary to other local and international journalists. Pictures of the redshirts using guns, motolov, fire bombs and etc. can be seen on Thai newspapers and European news agencies including BBC.
3. There have hardly been any reporting of the men in black, acknowledged by the core red shirt leaders as their helpers, shooting live ammunition using heavy equipments such as M79. These are reported and shown in video footages by other international agencies.
4. In many previous clashes, CNN has deliberately failed to report on the casualties of the military, many of which total more than civilians especially during the initial stage of the protest clashes in which the military are unarmed but hit by live ammunitions.
5. CNN has failed to report about the nature of most of the participants of the protest, a majority of which have come from the rural area without true understanding of the objective of the protest. It is widely known that a portion of them were paid to participate. While many were coerced to join with the promise to help clear their personal debts in the near future.
6. CNN has never done any in-depth report on the nature of the source of funding of this protest; which are understood by the general public in Thailand as to have come from the ousted PM Taksin Shinnawatra using money corrupted from the people of Thailand during his term in office. Also it has failed to include in its summary (of the reason leading to the protest) that the supreme court has found him unanimously guilty of implementing policies that benefits his family businesses accounting to several hundreds of billion baht. And also that he is a fugitive on the run, not for political problems, but for corruption charges that have already been found guilty in court.
These few examples shown to you, may assist you to reevaluate your quality of work. Retro analysis on your reportings compared to local news and other international ones may also be of help.
Please do not forget that journalists are looked upon as "the fourth estate". Any biased, careless or irresponsible news as found in yellow journalism should not be a part of your organization. As your long-timed viewer, we hope you will consider this information and use it to raise your standard of work to be the trusting news agency that you claim to be!
A Letter From a Patriotic Thai to BBC regarding Jonathan Head
Open Letter to CNN By Zeza
Recently, CNN Thailand Correspondents Dan Rivers and Sarah Snider have made me seriously reconsider your agency as a source for reliable and accurate unbiased news. As of this writing, over thousands of CNN’s viewers have already begun to question the accuracy and dependability of its reporting as regards events in Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Iran, etc., in addition to Bangkok.
As a first-rate global news agency, CNN has an inherent professional duty to deliver all sides of the truth to the global public who have faithfully and sincerely placed their trust and reliance in you. Your news network, by its longtime transnational presence and extensive reach, has been put in a position of trust and care; CNN’s journalists, reporters, and researchers have a collective responsibility to follow the journalist's code and ethics to deliver and present facts from all facets of the story, not merely one-sided, shallow and sensational half-truths. The magnitude of harm or potential extent of damage that erroneous and fallacious news reporting can cause to (and exacerbate), not only a country’s internal state of affairs, economic well-being, and general international perception, but also the real lives and livelihood of the innocent and voiceless people of that nation, is enormous. CNN should not negligently discard its duty of care to the international populace by reporting single-sided or unverified facts and distorted truths drawn from superficial research, or display/distribute biased images which capture only one side of the actual event.
Mr. Rivers and Ms. Snider have NOT done their best under these life-threatening circumstances because many other foreign correspondents have done better. All of Mr. Rivers and Ms. Sniders' quotes and statements seem to have been solely taken from the anti-government protest leaders or their followers/sympathizers. Yet, all details about the government’s position have come from secondary resources. No direct interviews with government officials have been shown; no interviews or witness statements from ordinary Bangkok residents or civilians unaffiliated with the protesters, particularly those who have been harassed by or suffered at the hands of the protesters, have been circulated.
Why the discrepancy in source of information? Why the failure to report all of the government’s previous numerous attempts to negotiate or invitations for protesters to go home? Why no broadcasts shown of the myriad ways the red protesters have terrorized and harmed innocent civilians by burning their shops, enclosing burning tyres around apartment buildings, shooting glass marbles at civilians from high altitudes, attacking civilians in their cars, and worst of all, obstructing paramedics and ambulances carrying civilians injured by M79 grenade blasts during the Silom incident of April 24, 2010, thereby resulting in the sole civilian casualty? The entire timeline of events that have forced the government to take this difficult stance has been hugely and callously ignored in deference to the red ‘underdogs’.
Mr. Rivers and Ms. Snider’s choice of sensational vocabulary and terminology in every newscast or news report, and choice of images to broadcast, has resulted in law-abiding soldiers and the heavily-pressured Thai government being painted in a negative, harsh, and oppressive light, whereas the genuinely violent and law-breaking arm of the anti-government protesters - who are directly responsible for overt acts of aggression not only against armed soldiers but also against helpless, unarmed civilians and law-abiding apolitical residents of this once blooming metropolis (and whose actions under American law would by now be classified as terrorist activities) – are portrayed as righteous freedom fighters deserving of worldwide sympathy and support. This has mislead the various international Human Rights watchdogs to believe the Thai government are sending trigger-happy soldiers out to ruthlessly murder unarmed civilians without just cause.
As a current resident of "war zone" Bangkok who has experienced the effect of the Red protests first hand and is living in a state of constant terror and anxiety as to whether her family, friends, and home would get bombed or attacked by the hardcore anti-government vigilantes/paramilitary forces - I appeal to CNN's professional integrity to critically investigate and scrutinize the misinformed news reporting of your above-named correspondents. If they are incapable of obtaining genuine, authentic facts from any other source except the Red Protest leaders and red-sympathizing Thai translators or acquaintances, or from fellow non-Thai-speaking journalists who are similarly ignorant of Thai language, culture, history, and society, then perhaps CNN should consider reassigning field correspondents to Thailand.
I implore and urge you to please take serious action to correct or reverse the grave injustice that has been done to the Thai nation, her government, and the majority of law-abiding Thai citizens and expatriate residents by having endorsed and widely circulated poorly researched and misrepresented news coverage of the current ongoing political unrest and escalating violence in Thailand.
Copies of this open letter have also been distributed to other local as well as international news media and social networks for public information. Please feel free to contact me further should you require any additional concrete and reputable evidence in substantiation and corroboration of my complaints and claims stated hereinabove.
Napas Na Pombejra, B.A., LL.B. (Lond.)
May 17, 2010
Enclosed herewith for your attention and information some examples of other quality international news bulletins by respectable foreign journalists so you may assess at your leisure the sub-par quality and misleading nature of Mr. Rivers and Ms. Sniders' journalism:
1. New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/world/asia/16thai.html
2. Fox News/Associated Press:
3. Global Post: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/thailand/100514/thailand-protests-bangkok
4. NHK: http://www.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/17_15.html
5. Al Jazeera: http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/listeningpost/2010/04/2010423171540981286.html
6. Deutsche Welle (English media in Germany):
7. Local English daily newspaper’s chronology of events on Day 3 of “War in Bangkok”:
Youtube Videos, images, articles showing what CNN has failed to circulate:
Subject: Many western media are balanced and knowledgeable
Below is the comment from an AP reporter whom I know personally; he is a long-time resident of Thailand. I regularly discuss the current turmoil with him. I have both the highest respect for his opinion, and have more faith in his opinion than those of another media sources.
Not surprised he is piqued by being lumped together with CNN and BBC.
Many thanks. Amazing how many analyses are coming out these days. This one was a mix of some excellent insights and in my opinion very silly, old cliches about East and West. And anyone who lumps ``international media'' into one basket doesn't know what they are talking about in terms of media. The so-called international media is not a monolith but spread across the spectrum from superb to rotten. I agree that many journalists, especially those who parachute in, don't know what they are talking about when they report on Thailand. BUt I think some of us do, or try hard to do, and frankly are doing a better job than much of the Thai media which has huge biases and just lousy reporting. As far as BBC and CNN, I frankly have not watched them. They are normally useless in terms of helping us and we have many more reporter in the field than they do. But from what many people including our own Thai and farang AP staff have told me, CNN has done some ridiculous, exaggerated reporting with BBC somewhat better. But that's nothing new: CNN produces exaggerated, over-dramatic crap from the USA and everywhere else too. So this is not some Thailand-specific ailment.
your friend who nearly met his maker yesterday
on the corner of Sarasin and Rajdamri when the M-79s came in