Thai Language Newspapers

One aspect of living in Thailand that has caught my attention is comparing Thai language newspapers to the English language papers.  There are some interesting differences.

For starters, there are approximately ten daily Thai language newspapers and two English language papers here in Krungthep.  Bear in mind that the population of the greater metropolitan area is between six and ten million.  The lower number represents the officially registered population, but the higher number represents the many laborers who come in from the countryside but never re-register their address from their home province.

It amazes me that there are so many newspapers here.  Now, they aren’t all newspapers in the way you might define a newspaper if you are from the US or Canada.  Some are more political, some focus mostly on sports, others are mostly tabloids.  But they are all daily news publications.

The English language papers – the Bangkok Post and The Nation – looks and feel much more like a traditional Western paper: news section, sports section, business section, and lifestyle section.  One could argue about the quality of their reporting, but that’s for another entry.

The Thai language papers, even the ones that profess to be serious news outlets, are not shy about using shocking, barely redacted images on their front pages.

Almost every day there is a scene from an accident, a murder, a bomb attack in the South, etc.  The bodies are pixelated in an attempt to protect the sensitivities of the readers, but they don’t try very hard.

These two examples are pretty tame.  The worst image I’ve ever seen was in the case when a young man rather stupidly climbed a pole supporting high-tension power lines.  He was electrocuted and his charred body was caught up in the lines.  The image on the front page of one paper showed the unmistakable image of a charred body, twisted up in the power lines.  Gory.

I guess you could make the argument that showing more graphic images keeps people from living in the illusion of a sanitized world, free of death, violence, and ugliness.  However, I’m not sure I need to see such graphic sights over my breakfast to help me fully apprecaite the world.  Thoughts?


I miss the NY Times

NY Times When I lived in the States, one of my favorite ways to pass a Sunday morning was with a big pot of coffee, a pitcher of scalded and frothed milk, and the New York Times.  Just the Magazine alone was worth the purchase price.

Sadly, the Times is not available here in Asia except as a special purchase at a newsstand that imports days-old copies.  Instead, you can purchase the International Herald Tribune, which is the Times’ international coverage and a smattering of US news, combined with some local stories provided by a partner newspaper in each particular country.  It just isn’t the same.

One of the things I like best about the Times is the quality of writing.  I honed my appreciation for the written word by reading the prose in Times articles, which are written several grade levels above the average newspaper.

These days I read the Times online.  The writing is just as good but the experience is not the same.  Still, I enjoy the reporters’ clever turns of phrase such as this choice bit from an article about some notable people who died in 2007.  This quote comes from an entry about former longtime Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton, the first running mate for George McGovern’s 1972 Presidential campaign, who resigned from the campaign after acknowledging his history of depression and mental illness.

The federal courthouse in St. Louis is named for him. Accomplished men and women have recounted how they were awed by his intellect, influenced by his humanity, inspired and enlisted by his passion. Thomas Eagleton was a giant of Missouri politics. But he was a giant bound by ties of his own peculiar design. He spent the first part of his career in the grip of a secret. Later, he was fettered to a question he answered countless times but never resolved.

“He was a man of decency, honor, humor, integrity,” George McGovern told me recently, rattling off Eagleton’s virtues until they veered abruptly off a rhetorical cliff, “with an incredible cover-up.”

Beautiful, isn’t it?