All That’s Wrong With News In Thailand

Living here in Thailand I like to know what’s going on around me and the country I live in so I follow a couple of dozen news sources both in Thai and English to keep up-to-date with what’s happening and share a few stories that catch my eye with readers of Stickboy.

On Monday three stories were dominating the news and social media – the killings in Krabi, My Mate Nate’s latest douchebaggery and reports about visitors being refused entry into Thailand when they couldn’t show 20k in funds.

I didn’t mention any of them here on Stickboy because in the case of the first two the story was all over the place and no two versions the same. The third was mountains being made out of molehills.

The Krabi slaying of eight family members was over debts or a land deal depending which news outlet you were reading. Police had 5, 6 or 7 in custody? I’ve no idea as all three figures were used. And so the story went with one news outlet contradicting the other on key facts in the story.

It was the same with the My Mate Nate fiasco. Some reports say he was charged with trespassing and criminal damage, others just trespassing with more charges to come if it was found his antics had damaged tracks following further investigation.

He had a Non B visa, work permit, a proper company and was paying taxes on his earnings or was he? Several news sites claim he only has the visa and his work permit application is making its way through the system, while others claim that isn’t true.

This is very common and what I usually do is follow the line published by Thairath and information supplied by a handful of close contacts associated with or working in the media.

Both stories were simply too messy for me to waste my time on and write up yesterday. If I’m going to share a story here I want it to be as factually correct and accurate as possible. I do my best on that front even if it means I publish it a few hours after everyone else.

I don’t have the “Me first, me first” mentality despite it bringing in thousands of hits for getting something out there first because if I get it wrong then I just look like a dick and the day when I do have a good story to run ahead of anyone else people will question it, remembering past articles that were wrong.

And yes, I still make mistakes. Everyone does and from time to time corrections are made.

All Thats Wrong With News In Thailand

As for the story doing the rounds about an increase in visitors being knocked back by immigration because they couldn’t show 20k… well, 2 posts on back to back days with newly created accounts on a forum notorious for clickbait, sensationalism and posts created by those from within to stir up comments to keep pageviews up isn’t what I’d class as a reliable source much like the third instance that showed up on a Facebook expats group also known for misleading posts by users.

** Note one did have 25,000 baht in cash on him and had a newly issued ED Visa in his passport but was refused entry as he had four back to back tourist visas, a Visa on Arrival plus he’d overstayed by two days within the past week, leading the immigration officer to suspect he was working illegally in Thailand.

The three instances, if true, isn’t a marked increase nor a crackdown nor something new. If I was a betting man I’d say at least a dozen people a day are asked to show 20k in cash at Bangkok’s main airports after catching the eye of the immigration officer who see’s a passport chock-a-block with Tourist Visas and exemption stamps all from the past year.

The non-story has grown legs with discussion springing up all over and websites in need of a story running with it knowing it will conjure up clicks and comments.

And remember, the Immigration Act 1979 clearly states you can be refused entry for “Having no appropriate means of living following entry into the Kingdom” – just because they don’t often ask doesn’t mean they won’t.

When it comes to covering Thai news it’s a minefield with stories often sourced from stringers getting 30b – yes, 30 baht, that’s not a typo – per story they may sell to ten outlets. For that kind of payday it’s no wonder facts aren’t high on the priority list much like the fact checking of those scouring social media for something sordid to publish. If someone said it on Facebook, that’s good enough to run with.

Sure, I find plenty of pics and videos via Thai Facebook pages but I’m not a multi-million baht news organisation with hundreds of qualified journalists and the resources to do a bit of digging to see if a story checks out.

Most reports, even in the English language publications, are full of sloppy reporting, exaggerated clickbait or just downright misleading by those with an agenda, axe to grind or daily visitor targets to meet.