Foreign press admit covering Thai conflict is tricky

national January 19, 2014 00:00

By Noppatjak Attanon
The Sunday

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Foreign reporters covering the political conflict in Thailand admit they face difficulties doing their job here.

At a forum on Thursday night about covering the protest, held at the Foreign Correspondents Club, Veronica Pedrosa from Al Jazeera shared her experience of interviewing caretaker PM Yingluck Shinawatra. She said Yingluck was so cautious in her responses, she could not “reach” the PM’s real self.
Pedrosa said the people around the PM, many of whom are male, were very interested and asked whether she thought Yingluck was really pretty.
Pedrosa said that sometimes the media could not stay neutral, such as in the case of the killing of many journalists in the Philippines several years ago.
Reacting to criticism that foreign media do not understand “Thai-ness,” Jonathan Head from the BBC said simple short reports could not explain the complexity of the Thai conflict.
“It’s not about not understanding Thai-ness. It’s because we have to explain a complex issue in very little time and space,” he said.
He said the BBC had never taken sides and that favouring one side would make their work even harder.
He also shared the experience of being misunderstood by a protester. “A Thai woman was very friendly to me and thanked me for my reporting, and then asked me if I was Michael Yon [another reporter].”
Head said Thailand was one of the countries where political players most quoted the foreign media.