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Mediating political dissent: a study of Thai news organisations and southern conflict reporting

Kularb, Phansasiri 2013. Mediating political dissent: a study of Thai news organisations and southern conflict reporting. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The objective of this thesis is to explore the roles of news media in the political conflict in Thailand’s southernmost provinces by analysing two aspects of Thai journalism: news content and news production practices. Four news organisations of different platforms and organisational natures were selected. The content analysis reveals that, despite their different characteristics, the four organisations’ reports similarly highlight the conflict’s violent aspect and the preservation of public order via law enforcement and security, rely heavily on authority sources, and primarily label perpetrators as criminals. Therefore, the news coverage tends to support the state’s legitimacy in solving the conflict and undermine other interpretations and proposed solutions. Interviews with news workers and ethnography of news production show that journalists encounter several difficulties in reporting about the conflict, from physical threats, limited access to information, and organisational constraints to the pressures from market competition and predominant beliefs in Thai society. The journalist-source relationship is also instrumental in shaping the aforementioned portrayal of the conflict. In all, these elements contribute to journalists’ different stances on the conflict and the various roles they perform. Three prominent roles of Thai journalism in the southern conflict are identified: 1) journalism as a presenter of truth, 2) journalism as a forum for every party, and 3) journalism as a supporter in conflict resolution. These disparate roles reflect the dynamic power play, debates about news professionalism, and reflexivity among journalists. They also signal the interplay between journalism and other political and social institutions. The thesis argues that, while the news coverage still largely endorses the authority’s perspectives and legitimacy, the shifts in the discursive contention and political consensus, as well as diversity and complexity in Thai news ecology could provide opportunities for the counterhegemonic accounts to emerge and facilitate healthy democratic debates about the southern conflict.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:22

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