(MENAFN - Saudi Press Agency) A cameraman for a German TV station feeds live
video to a satellite from his laptop on the pavement in front of a
red shirt barricade in Bangkok, according to dpa.
A Canadian blogger who is usually happy to get 1,000 or 2,000 hits
on YouTube holds his video camera in front of his face as red-shirted
protestors battle troops and suddenly he's getting 300,000 hits.
An American TV producer stays on top of the fast-breaking story by
letting his thumbs do the walking on his mobile-phone-linked Twitter
The latest communications technologies and social networking
systems are spewing out a flood of information on the Thai political
crisis, while giving more traditional media a run for their money.
"Without Twitter, no one would know what's going on," enthused
independent television producer Eric Seldin, 50, who has been
covering the Thai political crisis from the beginning. "It's a stream
of consciousness. Everything is in real time. I'm totally addicted."
Internet-based networks have come into their own during several
recent upheavals, particularly in Iran last year and Haiti and Chile
earlier this year.
"Newswise, it's Twitter and Facebook," Seldin said. "Nobody uses
One measure of Twitter's success during the Thai crisis has been
the frequent appearance of the "Fail Whale," an automated message
that pops up on computer and mobile phone screens when the Twitter
system's capacity has been overwhelmed.
The ability to receive real-time updates on one's mobile phone has
not eliminated the need for sound news judgement, Seldin said.
"There is a lot of false information out there," he said. "I have
to separate the wheat from the chaff. Like any journalist, you
multiple-verify the information. After a while you get to know who's
The red shirt crisis has cranked up the Thai rumour mill and made
it possible for news providers and consumers to bypass traditional
media, creating a few instant internet stars.
"A lot of people are capitalizing on this to boost their sites,"
said Tony Joh, 37, who has been blogging from Bangkok since December
He expressed concern that other bloggers were trying to emulate
his success in single-handedly covering the bloody battle between
Thai troops and red shirt demonstrators on April 10.
His three video blogs from that night are some of the most
compelling footage from the carnage. They received more than 300,000
hits worldwide, he said.
"I worry that other bloggers are trying to do the same thing by
putting themselves in danger," Joh said. "They shouldn't risk
themselves just to get some hits."
One reason for the need for increased vigilance on the part of
amateur as well as professional journalists has been the changing
attitude of the red shirts themselves.
In the early phases of the crisis the anti-government protestors
actively solicited the sympathy of journalists, welcoming them into
their demonstrations and freely providing interviews and refreshments.
That attitude had turned to outright hostility by the May 19
military crackdown, when journalists perceived as unsympathetic to
the red shirts, including those working for the English-language
Bangkok Post, The Nation and some foreign media, were verbally abused
and roughed up by the demonstrators.
An Italian journalist was shot dead that day and several other
journalists were wounded by gunfire.
Warnings of journalists possibly being targeted by the military,
citing anonymous "reliable sources," were distributed by email and
text messages in the days leading to the military crackdown.
The BBC and CNN have been hit by a barrage of criticism in
cyberspace over alleged bias and over-simplification during the Thai
crisis. Both networks have attempted to co-opt their on-line
competition by trumpeting the best websites and encouraging viewers
to send in their own photos and comments.
The US-based cable network's website CNNGo last month gave
recognition to what it considered the seven top Twitterers in the
Thai capital, with Bangkok Pundit leading the pack for political news
The Bangkok Pundit Twitter page and website offer up-to-the-minute
coverage of Thai politics and a wide range of opinions, in contrast
to hundreds of other sites with all-too-obvious axes to grind.