Respected Thai monk tells media to be neutral

By Pradit Ruangdit, The Bangkok Post, July 5, 2009

Phra Wor Wachiramethee says journalists should report the truth, even when it goes against their political beliefs

Bangkok, Thailand -- Leading preacher and writer Phra Wor Wachiramethee has warned media professionals to maintain neutrality or they would worsen the rifts in society.

Speaking at the 12th anniversary celebration of the National Press Council of Thailand (NPCT), Phra Maha Wutthichai Wachiramethee, better known as Phra Wor Wachiramethee, said the people are now divided by different ideologies and beliefs.

It is because people today value beliefs more than the truth that we are beset with so many problems, he said. The beliefs that are not the truth are the source of conflicts, the Buddhist monk said.

Journalists should not get involved in conflicts themselves. They must exercise their judgement and uphold the positions that they are required to offer all parties accuracy and fairness in their news coverage.

Journalists must possess "intellectual neutrality", said Phra Wor Wachiramethee.

He suggested that all media professionals take a holistic approach when looking at the ongoing political conflicts, because they would then not jump to conclusions by basing their judgement on only a few pieces of information.

While encouraging media professionals to neutrally report the truth, backed with solid evidence, Phra Wor Wachiramethee said they should also be courageous enough to put the truth before their beliefs, and the country's and the public's interest before their own.

More importantly, they should work with conscience, said the monk.

Pramote Fai-uppara, the president of the NPCT, said members of the media have always been criticised for lacking neutrality, distorting facts and contributing to violent disputes.

Media organisations need to get their acts together and brush up their image if they want to be seen in a better light, he said.