‘News fees’ unacceptable and clear breach of professional ethics
Thailand’s seven key media organisations have announced they are forming a committee to investigate the incident in which Thai journalists allegedly accepted money from the deputy national police chief in exchange for reporting news, saying that the action is a serious breach of professional ethics.
The organisations, namely the National Press Council of Thailand, the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand, the Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, the Society for Online News Provider Association, the National Union of Journalists Thailand, and the Confederation of Thai Journalists, jointly issued a statement on Thursday.
The statement referred to a recent interview given by deputy commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police, Pol General Surachate Hakparn, who said that he had paid money to journalists as a ‘news fee’ as well as offered other assistance because he understood that journalists have low salaries.
“After a meeting among the seven news organisations, we would like to make clear our stand that accepting money from news sources to perform or not perform any action is a serious breach of professional ethics and is unacceptable,” the statement reads.
The organisations went on to say that it would form a committee to investigate the incident and clarify every detail to the public.
The 7-person committee will comprise two representatives each from the National Press Council of Thailand, the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand, and the Professionals of Broadcasting Council of Thailand, as well as a non-journalist expert to serve as chairperson.
The organisations urged media companies to undertake an internal investigation to find out if their journalists have accepted money as alleged and will announce the result to the public. They will also consider putting a halt to accepting news from third parties acting as journalists who have displayed behaviours that are a breach of journalistic professional ethics.
The organisations also urged former news reporters who have been supplying information to news agencies to declare publicly if they had accepted money as a fee for reporting public relations news and to stop claiming they are journalists.