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Media academics urge courageous, neutral coverage of South

Some Thai television media coverage of the peace process in the deep South has been shaped by a Cold War mentality and limited by nationalist discourse, said Samatcha Nilaphatama, a lecturer at the faculty of communication sciences at Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus.

Samatcha carried out research on media discourse on the peace process in southern Thailand last year, including a study of coverage by TV Channel 3 through its "Khao Sarm Miti" (Three-Dimension News) programme as well as TPBS's "Here Is TPBS" programme.

Samatcha and his collaborator Rungrawee Chalermsripinyorat, an independent researcher specialising in Pattani issues, found that both programmes covered the news in such a way that facilitated the continuation of the peace dialogue.

As for civil-society-based media, the research - which was sponsored by Media Inside Out, a media non-governmental organisation based in Bangkok - found that the website Deep South Watch had been used as a channel to communicate various views from civil-society groups, particularly in relation to the peace dialogue.

Rungrawee said some websites had become an open forum for safe discussion about issues that may be too sensitive to air on television. She urged all mass-media organisations to practise "peace journalism", which she defined as that which does not take sides and which stresses the loss of life on all sides.

Speaking about the research at a forum in Bangkok last week, Samatcha urged Thai mainstream mass media to be courageous enough to think outside the box and dare to discuss even such topics as the possibility of turning Thailand into a federation, if that could bring about lasting peace in Pattani.


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