Blank Exam: A question to Journalism

A few days ago there has been a recent news about one student who intentionally submit a “Blank Exam Paper” citing that:

The Civil Duty is the subject [the government led by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha] unwillingly inject to us […] the students were blamed to be the resistant citizen […] and I could not force myself to pen the misleading like this

While I personally believe that this may not be a correct expression to show that the junta is not a legitimate government, there has been a number of supporters to the above statement, as well as those who disagree to this expression. The question I am about to discuss, however, is not the context of the news. The stories was noted by a number of mainstream media and surfaced around my news feed on Facebook. It doesn’t look like it should be one of the mainstream news as it is just only an expression of opinion, but why it has become so mainstream pretty quickly

The situation in Thailand

It may be true that since the junta took power on May 2014, it tried to limit people’s expression or any kind of demonstration which went against the government or directly criticize it. Several academic discussions were postponed indefinitely (a euphemism for “cancelled”), a number of protesters were captured under Martial Law and were tried in the Military Court, citing “unusual circumstances”, and many prominent figures who demand democracy has either retreat from Social Network or have to refuge to other places or countries and continue to express their voice there. Given that at the current situation any action against the government will be under close moderation, and those who failed to agree would likely be summoned to Exchange their View in Military Garrisons, the Media is under a lack of domestic news and any stuff that may worth being news will be put into the news, regardless of the origin it came from. While the freedom of the press were not fully realized nowadays, there has been other incident that may be reported instead of giving importance into a figure who has previously appeared in the news for a similar attention-seeking act

“Clickbait” and “Source”

As with other websites like BuzzFeed which employed Clickbait headlines to generate revenue, some of news aggregator in Thailand copied the content from other websites and use the Clickbait headlines, sometimes with the content inside being nothing; yet, the headlines of these articles is often headed exaggeratedly. One of the prominent website were promoted through a series of postings of one Mobile Phone shop’s Facebook, which gathered more than 2 million likes mostly from the posting of clickbait articles from the clickbait websites. The original websites were sent cease-and-desist letter and closed down, but other incarnations remain widespread such that there has been a counter-clickbait initiative

Those content-generating website may have some of their own news and others copied from other website, but the content tends to evolve from something being “news for public and general interests” to something more personal, such that some strange phenomenon happened to one not-notable individual. While these may be used positively such that used to find the missing stuff/people, the exploration into personal lives and not for public interests would diminish the value of Journalism and what exactly it was in the first place. Some may argue that journalism does not always have to be for public interests, but I will argue that a borderline of privacy and public interests will become distorted if the media continue to follow the approach similar to this

Some of the question I will raised is that whether the social media be treated as the source of news. Often the articles in the mainstream news were posted based on testimony or personal status in the Social Media or something similar to social forum, which often has low reliability and is not a primary source on reporting news. While the era may have changed and some of the action on the Internet may be reported in the outside world, the words based on a single person is often not something that should be trusted at first sight

Conclusion

As I wrote this article, my friends are sending a counter-argument of the point why I do not consider people sending blank exam papers to be news. I would like to sum up that it:

…serves no purpose for public interests, but is only an opinion based on a single person which should not be given higher priority than any other. It was a desperate attempt of media to have some news to wrote under this situation

Whether how the argument on supporting the expression or opposing would resolve is not a question I would like to resolve under this circumstances; the altercation has become too far for me to side. Here I wish to deal with the question that reflect how current journalism should be

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