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Media organisations to probe Surachate’s payments to journalists

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Media organisations have announced an investigation into so-called “news fees” allegedly paid to journalists by Thailand’s deputy national police chief. Surachate Hakparn volunteered the information during a TV interview on Wednesday night about his ‘support’ of selected journalists to report stories about his work and investigations.

Seven key media organisations say they’re forming a committee to investigate the payments, which they describe as “unacceptable” and a serious violation of professional ethics.

The probe has been confirmed in a joint statement issued by 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 Providers, the National Union of Journalists Thailand, and the Confederation of Thai Journalists.

According to a Nation Thailand report, the statement referred to an interview recently given by deputy national police chief, Surachate Hakparn, aka “Big Joke”. In the interview, Surachate stated that he had previously paid “news fees” to journalists, in addition to offering them other “assistance”, because he knew they were working on low salaries.

In their statement, the 7 media organisations decried the so-called fees, saying journalists who accepted such payments were in breach of professional ethics.

“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.”

According to a Nation Thailand report, the committee formed to investigate the payments comprises 7 people, including 2 representatives each from the National Press Council of Thailand, the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand, and the Professionals of Broadcasting Council of Thailand, and will be chaired by a non-journalist expert.

The organisations are calling on media companies to investigate their own journalists to find out if any have accepted payments, saying the results of such internal investigations will be made public. They’ve also stated that they may no longer accept news from sources acting as journalists, if they are found to be in violation of journalistic ethics.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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