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We have heard it time and time again!
The school where the teachers tied up the kindergarten kids was not named.
The hotel where the lift fell down was not named.
The department store where the car drove off the fourth floor of the car park…..yes, of course, you guessed it…..
was not named.
Ok, I can appreciate not naming businesses and organizations that are in no way connected or culpable in news that might present them in a bad light. We don’t necessarily need to know the name of the condo where someone jumped or the hotel where the dead tourist was found.
You weren’t to blame so it seems fair to keep your name out of the news.
But we sure as hell need to know the school where teachers and even the director think it is quite alright to blindfold children to make them concentrate. Or hotels where lifts plummet several storeys injuring guests. Or department stores where building regulations might have been flouted making them a danger to the public.
To me and my family.
Sure. News stories are often inaccurate and there may not be anyone to blame. But we need to know even when an investigation is under way. The public are not fools; if there really was no wrong doing we can move on.
But by not naming the parties involved all you are doing is creating uncertainty which may lead to completely unconnected businesses and establishments being implicated.
Ever heard of guilt by association and innuendo?
And when there is a case to answer. Where guilt has been admitted. Then surely we have a right to know.
A right to know that will help us inform the decision where not to send our children.
A right to know where it might be dangerous for us to enter a lift to go to our room.
A right to know where we might avoid parking our car due to inadequate safety provision.
A right to know where hospitals put profit ahead of the care of their patients, and other such cases.
Of course the Thais hide behind their Draconian Criminal Defamation Laws and Computer Crime Act.
News organizations are terrified of being sued even if they are proved to be in the right. Damages can be large, people can be jailed and serve more time than even the ones in the wrong!
Everyone understands the need to protect people from libel, from slander, from malicious reporting or malicious statements.
But where do you draw the line? Does the public not have any rights to know what danger they might be putting themselves or their loved ones in?
Do we not have a right to know the truth so that we can make informed decisions?
The law and weakness of news media in being cowed by it is thoroughly detrimental to the well-being of the public.
Who in addition have to face the absurd situation whereby they are threatened with action from officialdom – such as police for example – even when a case is proven. Even when it is as plain as the nose on your face.
Is this fear of criticizing not counter-productive to the claims that the police make of wanting to be more friendly, more in tune with the wishes and needs of the public?
That is a rhetorical question. Of course it is.
Schools, hotels, restaurants, shops, department stores, hospitals – you name it –they all need to be named in the public interest.
If they behave disreputably then their reputation deserves to be tarnished – not protected so they can just carry on regardless.
When nothing is proven we can understand the words and phrases: “it is claimed”, “alleged”, “as yet unfounded allegations”.
But we need to know when an investigation is in progress and who exactly it involves. We need to know when it is resolved and how.
The media need to inform us and we need officialdom to show us some respect. We have a right to transparency.
We have a right to know.