THAILAND: Senator says, media 'must do more'

Senator Sophon Suphapong encourages media to actively increase involvement in peace process in nation's southern region

Bangkok Post
Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Pattani --- Senator Sophon Suphapong has urged the media to play a more active role in helping restore peace to the deep South, saying reporters should not merely report what happens but should also play an investigative role. Mr Sophon, a member of the National Reconciliation Committee, said reporters covering news in the restive deep South should not just report facts. They must do more by trying to dig up more information so as to get to the root causes of the problems that exist there.

To become a constructive force to help douse the southern fire, there are six tasks the media must carry out, he said.
They must report facts, find the cause of or motive behind an incident they are reporting, give their own views about incidents or conduct that go against moral standards, give suggestions about how a problem should be tackled, help find ways to prevent a problem from recurring, and form an alliance of like-minded people to help solve such problems, he said.

Admitting that the tasks he listed were beyond the media's scope of duty, he, however, insisted reporters covering events in the deep South should not just report facts or make critical comments, they should also analyse and extrapolate.

Mr Sophon was speaking at a seminar on the media's role in helping restore peace to the South organised by the local media and Prince of Songkhla University.

Muhammad Ayub Pathan, editor of Issara News Centre operated by the Thai Journalists Association, said the media was duty-bound to carry out its duties without prejudice.

Arthit Srisaowalak, of Ruamduay Chuaykan radio programme's Yala branch, said his programme was expanding its network in the deep South in a bid to find out the views from local residents affected by southern unrest. Views from the locals would be broadcast on its radio programme to make outsiders understand their problems, he said.

Rosida Pusu, a Pattani-based reporter for the Khao Sod newspaper, said the media and other professions in the deep South had to join together to help solve the southern unrest.