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The difference between press freedom and slander

Re: "Jonathan Head and the BBC are not okay", Letters, July 4.

Vint Chavala wrote "There is strong evidence that Head is a close friend of red-shirt leader Jakrapob Penkair", thus implying that Head has a conflict of interest and is acting unethically in his reporting. I am by no means a fan of Jonathan Head's reporting on Thailand, some of which has been disgraceful. Yet Khun Vint provides not one shred of evidence to support his claim that the men are close friends. He is, therefore, slandering Jonathan Head, and I'm disappointed that the editor of The Nation's letters section allowed him to do so.

Khun Vint then writes that "The FCCT should conduct a poll asking Thais living in Thailand what opinions they have concerning Jonathan Head and the BBC." The FCCT is not a polling agency. Furthermore, freedom of the press as enshrined in every recent Thai constitution, does not require that journalists write and report only what a majority of the Thai people like or approve of in a poll. Freedom of the press protects those who report news and opinions that are unpopular.

If you don't like what Head reports, Khun Vint, you have options. You can not watch the BBC, you can write to the BBC and complain, or you can write a lucid, persuasive and fact-based article that presents the other side of the story and get it printed.

Slandering others is unacceptable.

Jim Madison


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