Tourism News

Tourism News Phuketwan Tourism News
facebook recommendations


Sign up now for our News Alert emails and the latest breaking news plus new features.

Click to subscribe

Existing subscribers can unsubscribe here


Reporter Chutima Sidasathian interviews boatpeople survivors, 2009

Phuketwan Adopts Journalism Code of Ethics

Saturday, March 20, 2010
OPINION/ Journalism Code of Ethics

NOT LONG ago, the owner of a Phuket restaurant made his attitude plain. Phuketwan had given his restaurant a bad review, so he wasn't interested in advertising on the site.

Of course, what Phuketwan had done was to give his restaurant an honest review, not the usual Phuket deal: a fake promotion in exchange for a free meal.

We had arrived for a late lunch and the service was poor. The restaurant's staff hadn't been trained to act professionally at all times.

Yet as every street vendor knows, customers demand consistent quality when their stomachs rumble, not when a restaurant want to serve them.

There was the editor, too, who took a balanced article on Malaysia, designed to mark the country's 50th birthday, and removed all the negatives, so that the published result was totally positive, and a complete fabrication. Malaysian tourism was one of that publication's advertisers.

To some, truth is less important than money.

There are many people on Phuket who prefer to see only the sunny aspects of life on the island because it suits them, emotionally and financially. They ignore the negatives, at their peril.

Phuketwan is sometimes criticised for finding too much at fault with Phuket. Yet we report the positives when we find them, too. The world needs balance and objectivity.

As journalists, we are obliged to ignore self-interest. If, say, we faced the threat of having the water turned off for writing a story about our landlord, we would feel obliged to write that story.

Some readers misjudge us, though, and imagine we are able to right every injustice, sometimes overnight. We are not vigilantes, nor can we be effective substitutes for local authorities or the police. Our hope is to improve the system, not target individual wrong-doers.

All things considered, Phuket is reasonably well served by its English-language media. The choice these days is much greater, which is good, yet there's a downside to that. Readers need to be able to sort the journalism from the promotions.

What any reader should always look for is the source of the material, and honest disclosures of vested interest by the author.

If an article contains no byline or no mention of the source, you can assume it's propaganda. Don't waste your time reading it.

If the restaurant review has nothing to say that is even the slightest bit negative, you can assume that it's based on the free meal deal: you pay, we publicise.

Some people who call themselves journalists believe they are strong-minded enough to accept gifts yet not be influenced by that generosity. We don't believe that's possible, and deep down, we don't believe they do, either. They simply prefer to pretend to be honest.

Phuketwan has looked at journalists' codes of ethics in several countries and decided to adopt the Australian code, if only because it perhaps expresses the ideals better than some other models.

We don't believe that Phuketwan will always be perfect. But we do have a reasonably accurate understanding of the tenets of journalism, and if we do have a conflict of interest, we intend to continue to always declare it.

If our meal comes free, we'll tell you.


Respect for truth and the public's right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists describe society to itself. They convey information, ideas and opinions, a privileged role. They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, suggest and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They give a practical form to freedom of expression. Many journalists work in private enterprise, but all have these public responsibilities. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be accountable. Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do not fulfil their public responsibilities. Members engaged in journalism commit themselves to

* Honesty
* Fairness
* Independence
* Respect for the rights of others

1. Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.

2. Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.

3. Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source's motives and any alternative attributable source. Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.

4. Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.

5. Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.

6. Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.

7. Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.

8. Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material. Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a person's vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.

9. Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate. Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.

10. Do not plagiarise.

11. Respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.

12. Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.

Guidance Clause

Basic values often need interpretation and sometimes come into conflict. Ethical journalism requires conscientious decision-making in context. Only substantial advancement of the public interest or risk of substantial harm to people allows any standard to be overridden.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Well, that is not a catchy read, but it is a good one. Like BBC news gold standard. The road you take is much more rocky then others.

And I can already read the comments, where some lunes run you the internet high road, while ducking out in real life.

Making money on this business could be so easy... :). Good luck. I hope your model will get some more traction. Not only Thailand.

But also e.g. in FauxNews.

Posted by Lena on March 20, 2010 17:10


I literally laughed out loud :)) phuketwan, it seems, is mostly about its failed owner and phuketwan itself - day after day of self promotion and sanctimonious drivel.

Editor: As Lena predicted, no shortage of lunes. Congratulations, you're the first. By the way, you either laughed out loud or you didn't. Nothing literal about it.

Posted by Mark Wilson on March 20, 2010 19:44


I always thought that the reason that all restaurant reviews were positive is because of the draconian slander/libel laws. i.e that you could be sued for a bad review.

Editor: You could, and reviewers have to be prepared to defend their reviews in court. But that applies everywhere and law suits over reviews are uncommon. The more common reason is because the meal is usually provided free.

Posted by Benjie on March 20, 2010 22:40


"Two thumbs up". Lena says it all.

Posted by Anonymous on March 21, 2010 01:49


I believe this is a step in the right direction and I sincerely hope to see this reflected in the pages of Phuketwan. Phuket needs a legitimate news source and an open forum very badly. Especially now.

I do hope the editors can increase their faith in the reading public.

Though I realize some of the idiotic comments made here beg for response (and are made for that very reason), most readers recognize them without the need for the editors to point out the fact that the commenter is an imbecile. It degrades the overall image of the site as a news source. IMO.

Posted by YaThinkDoctor? on March 21, 2010 06:39


Relieved that Phuketwan is no longer linked to "invitations" to become a consumer of some product on behalf of the editor. Makes one think twice about contacting the editor directly with potential news items.

Posted by Treelover on March 21, 2010 06:57


GOOD Idea hope you stand by it....

You can please some of the people sometimes.
But you can't please all of the people all of the time. JD 2010

Posted by jd on March 21, 2010 08:39


YA THINK DOCTOR, You are spot on, having experienced this by the EDITOR myself, who edited my comments based on facts.
You also have to learn MR EDITOR, remember you are not always right.

Posted by jd on March 21, 2010 08:47


When writing about "local problems" and subjects that most readers wouldn't dare to talk in public, aren't you scared for your own health and life?

After all, it is Thailand and Phuket that we are talking about and some people might have a lot of money at stake with certain issues that you cover and demand change. (This is not meant to be a threat, just curious :D )

Editor: Phuket's problems will only grow worse as long as people remain frightened to talk about them. The need for change is recognised by everyone. Others with real power are leading the process. We are not demanding it, just reporting it as it comes.

Posted by Jimmy on March 21, 2010 09:23


Kudos Phuketwan. Always good to aim high, otherwise why bother?

You provide a great service.

Posted by Philip on March 21, 2010 09:24


Why is it that another news organisation now uses the same style green headings and italic introduction and daily summaries as you do with MediaWATCH?

Editor: MediaWATCH was a good idea. There is no copyright on good ideas. Phuketwan has driven improvements in the news coverage of Phuket by others, and we don't have a problem with that.

Posted by Angelfire on March 21, 2010 12:27


Phuket Gazette now has articles you can comment on. First started by Phuketwan.

Phuketwan is my preferred web-site for Phuket news.

Posted by Sir Burr on March 21, 2010 14:40


PhuketWan. My preferred choice. Editor, when are you going in print?

Posted by Sean on March 21, 2010 16:45


Agree 100% Ya Think Doctor,

"Editor" comment responses should be limited to clarification, Op Eds belong elsewhere.

Some retorts have been most unprofessional.

Editor: Some of us are still able to tell right from wrong and opposed to misinformation presented as opinion.

Posted by MediaWatcher on March 22, 2010 14:13


All media outlets in Phuket are economically dependent upon advertising revenue. If Phuketwan is to remain solvent it is presumably going to eventually be in the same position and is ultimately going to have to make the same concessions?

Editor: So deception is a necessary part of journalism, eh? No wonder readers are so sceptical. Promotions are fine - as long as they are declared as promotions. To pretend a review or any kind of article is legitimate when it's not is just plain dishonest. We'd rather starve than steal.

Posted by James on March 30, 2010 02:53


"Editor: Some of us are still able to tell right from wrong and opposed to misinformation presented as opinion"

With all due respect, that is correct Editor and what I believe we are trying to communicate is that your readers are equally capable of telling right from wrong as well as discerning the difference between misinformation, opinion, cultural bias and fact.

I can think of many situations where editorial comments did not further discussion but only drew attention to irrational arguments or furthered rancor. Yes, this site has had remarkable success but that is in spite of, not because of these remarks. Have some faith in your readers and resist the temptation.

While I do appreciate the active approach, snide remarks do not lend to either the credibility or professionalism of the site. If I want to read people slamming each other there are plenty of forums out there serving that purpose.

Gossip and innuendo are part of the package when you open up comments, difficult as it may be you need to accept this and the allowance of an open forum will encourage open discussion. It is this principle that is the foundation of Freedom of Speech and the fourth estate.

This, btw is opinion. Considered, but opinion none the less.

Editor: Nothing in your comment changes my view. ''Some of us are still able to tell right from wrong and opposed to misinformation presented as opinion." Today the principles of freedom of speech continue to apply, as they always have done, to people who have real identities and real opinions, not anonymous online grumps and mischief-makers.

Posted by YaThinkDoctor? on March 30, 2010 10:14


You're a fifth-rate editor working in the fourth estate in a third-world country that's second-to-none.

Posted by Elle Fant on March 30, 2010 16:42


I personally think, some posters in both of the online news report sites, have everything they need to become a success here, except a brain. Just thinking out loud.

Posted by Robin Sole on March 30, 2010 18:40

Tuesday February 27, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


Facebook Twitter