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PDRC newspaper records anti-govt protesters' 'historic' fight

The first edition of the Rajdamnoen Today newspaper was launched this week for the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), with a mission to provide facts about the people's movement to protesters and the public.

According to the PDRC, the newspaper is a symbol of unity - demonstrating that the group's fight against the "Thaksin regime" is not about to end.

This is not the first time that demonstrators have used the media to support their cause.

Sangtham Chunchadathan, editor of Rajdamnoen Today, said that during the October 14, 1973 uprising, the journalist's pen was an important weapon in the fight against injustice.

"I think a newspaper is a classic way to provide news, so I suggested that the PDRC should produce a paper - one that cannot be found in the mainstream media - to get their message across to the people.

Protesters can also collect it as a reminder of their taking part in these historic events," he said.

Before the massive rally last Sunday, PDRC leaders met with Sangtham, an ASTV anchor and editor of DemoCrazy magazine, to plan the first edition to be launched the day after Sunday's demonstrations.

They guessed it was the right time to do this, as the fight against the government was bound to continue, Sangtham said. He then presented a four-page layout of the first edition to the PDRC's spokesman Akanat Promphan for consideration. Akanat finally said "yes" and agreed to become the newspaper's director.

"The name of newspaper was discussed at length before we settled on Rajdamnoen Today. Some suggested "Nokwheet Rai Wan" (The Daily Whistle), because the whistle had become a symbol of our fight. But others were concerned that the name was not hard-hitting enough, so Rajdamnoen Today was chosen," Sangtham said.

The newspaper, which is run by a team of five to six journalists, has no field reporters. Instead the team monitors the protests via news websites and the BlueSky Channel. Sangtham always contacts the newspaper's staff via phone, or calls a meeting in the evening to select three to four issues to lead on the front page.

Sangtham said he believed the role of the media was to deliver facts to the public and then offer a response.

"Previously, the media's role in society was to act like a mirror and report the facts. I don't think that is enough anymore. The media should be a lamp - lighting the way, so that people are made aware of the real situation," he said.

Sangtham, who is the son of Thanya Chunchadathan - a political activist in the October 14, 1973 uprising against the military dictatorship - said his father believed that the PDRC was the biggest such movement in Thai political history. "I always think of the October 14, 1973 uprising as a historic milestone. I had a dream that my generation would one day make history - now I am doing it," Sangtham said.

He added that he had no idea what would happen next. "I just know that I am fighting alongside a movement [the PDRC] with influential people whose ideology is also my own.

"When the fighting ends, I hope I am remembered for the part I played," he said.


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