Media wars: Phuket’s press comes under fire

There has been a lot of talk on the Thai Visa Phuket forum about the Phuket Gazette recently. Clearly a large number of the island’s expats are unhappy with state of the Gazette’s online and print editions.

One of the main gripes people have with the Gazette was highlighted recently when PG HQ ran a story that outlined the Gazette’s new editorial policy, which sought to take the focus off crime stories and put it more onto lighter news and sport. Almost immediately people took issue with this.

There is an age-old issue in Phuket of some businessfolk not wanting the island presented in a negative light. Some people are of the belief that the focus should be on positive news stories so that tourists won’t be scared off. This is a terrible idea and we urge anyone still holding onto these values to let them go.

The English-language press has a duty to report news. Any editorial policy that neglects this principle in order to produce a “lighter” product is failing its audience. This is why we’ve been glad to see the Gazette do something of an about turn by going back to reporting a wider range of stories. It should be noted that no newspaper could report every story on the island and also that the Phuket Gazette has, in the past, reported some very gritty stories. The issue at the moment comes from the Gazette coming out and announcing the deviation from crime stories.

The Gazette is Phuket’s primary news source and it therefore has a lot of responsibility to live up to. There has been much criticism directed towards the Gazette over the past few months, but we are starting to see changes.

Although people spend a lot of time complaining about the Phuket Gazette, they often ignore that they are free to email or call the editor to voice their opinions. No media outlet can get it right all the time and it’s made even harder if the general public is content merely to complain on Internet forum.

If you hear of a good story, call it in. If you see something wrong, call it in.

Perhaps part of the reason for the Gazette’s change of heart in terms of editorial policy is because it now has a rival: Phuket Wan. Although Phuket Wan only publishes an online version of Phuket news, the website has been steadily building itself a reputation as a serious contender for the honor of being the island’s primary English-language news service.

What would help Phuket Wan immensely at this stage is a redesign of its website to make it more like a news site than a blog. This will also help Phuket Wan in its application to have content syndicated to Google News. Should that happen, the exposure the website receives will increase exponentially.

Competition is good and it will hopefully bring out the best in both Phuket Wan and the Phuket Gazette. There is no reason why Phuket Wan and the Gazette cannot coexist. Perhaps we may even reach a point at which the Gazette is in a secure enough position to mention Phuket Wan by name, rather than dismissively referring to it as a “local blog”.

We look forward to what the future may bring from both camps.

Author: Phuket Vogue

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