Does Thai Media Devote Too Much Attention To Boston Bombing?

There is no dispute that the bombing which killed 3 and injured more than 160 people in the US city of Boston in the past week was certainly a big news in many countries around the globe.

What is being
disputed is the question of whether the incident attracts relatively excessive media coverage. On
the internet, some people complained that the US media gives so much airtime to the terror in Boston
but almost virtually ignored deadly acts in other countries which killed far more victims.

On
the day the Boston Marathon was attacked, these critics pointed out, dozens of Syrian civilians were
killed in airstrikes, and Iraq saw one of the worst waves of violence in recent months, killing more
than 50 people. Both news were barely mentioned in many media outlets.

Some voiced their
concern that lives of few Americans have more value in the eyes of media than those of other
nations.

But there are also those who argued that it′s only natural that US media paid much
more attention to what happened in their very homeland than faraway places like the Middle East or
Africa.

When we lose a family member or a friend, it completely makes sense that we feel
more affected by loss of that person than dozens of victims who died in a terror attack
somewhere,
a Facebook user commented in one of the virtual debates.

However, it is not
only the US media that devotes so much attention to the Boston attack. Thai media does the same as
well, which led to the question of Why?.

Jirapon
Vitayasakdipan, a lecturer in mass media communications who teaches at Chiangmai University, said in
an interview that it is partly

because of Thai media′s heavy reliance on news items from
Western – espcially American –  media agencies like the CNN and the AP.

Whatever is
currently the big news in the West and the US, Thai media will also ?import? the trend and propagate
it in Thailand, without really considering or prioritizing which news actually has more immediate
effect on our country, she said.

Ms. Jirapon suggested that elements of drama of the Boston
attack – scenes of explosion right in front of camera, and of bloodied bystanders running and
screaming in panic – fit in very well with Thai media′s widespread preference for sensational and
dramatic news pieces.

Ultimately, Thai people lost sight of what is news and information,
and what is drama. Just look at how some reporters even mistook Meryl Streep for Margaret
Thatcher,
Ms. Jirapon said, refering to the infamous incident in which Thailand′s public TV
Channel 5 displayed picture of the American actress along with coverage of the British former Prime
Minister′s death.

She added that there was also a situation when some of the public criticize
Thai media for giving too much attention to a certain news piece, but the media industry argues that
the public prefers to know more about that news than other topics, and the media merely serves the
public′s will.

It descends into the vicious cycle, Ms. Jirapon said.

In the
conversation with Khaosod correspondent, Ms. Jirapon conceded that there was certainly a huge number
of news consumers in Thailand who prefer sensational, tabloid items to hard news, but insisted that
it should not be the media′s excuse ecause it is merely about shoving responsibility to the
audiences whereas it is the media′s duty to serve them with thoughtful, critical news.

It
is possible that some reporters hold liberal and progressive stances, so they broadcast their
sympathy with the US, which is widely seen as a bastion of liberalism, out of their principles, Ms.
Jirapon said, ut there are reporters who had no ideology. They simply bend to the ongoing trends
like trees in the storm

Meanwhile, Saksith Saiyasombut,
a correspondent of Singapore-based Channel News Asia, gave his viewpoint as a member of the media
industry. He said the Boston incident in itself is rightfully newsworthy; partly because the attack
took place in a major sports event, in the presence of so many witnesses and media crews, so the
situation naturally attract attention from many people, including Thais.

Furthermore, he
said, the attack shattered the widely-held image of the US as a superpower where its citizens lived
in safety, so the twin bombing at Boston is far more unexpected and shocking than daily violences
in warzone regions like Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

This is not only about West versus
Middle East. The same happens even in Thailand. There were almost daily lethal attacks on soldiers
and civilians in the Deep South, but we are more shocked by a terror attack that strikes in the
heart of a city, like what happened in Boston,
Mr. Saksith said.

Mr. Saksith said there
might be the issue of American soft power at play as well, refering to the Thai public′s generally
positive perception of the US, contrary to what might be the case in, say, the Middle East, and can
be observed from much of Thai social network′s expression of sympathy toward the US in the aftermath
of the bombing.

I think Thai people have been identifying themselves closely with the West,
it′s just they are not aware of that themselves, he concluded.


(Note: this article was published by the paper
edition of Khaosod before the dramatic hunt for the 2 suspects in Boston took
place)