Thailand: The Nation again disappoints with use of social media
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Thailand: The Nation again disappoints with use of social media

Thai English language newspaper The Nation is probably the country’s most active media group using social media. However, once again I find myself looking for more from its strong presence online following its latest crowdsourced article on Bangkok’s airport.

The group shows reasonable flashes when using social and new media, only to be let down by the final product despite a significant number of its journalists enjoying large followings in Thailand.

Take for example Suthichai Yoon, the group’s editor in chief (@suthichai), and his recent polling of opinions on the much-criticised airport, Suvarnabhumi. Yoon reached out to followers offering them the chance to contact him expressing their thoughts and experiences of some of the problems facing commuters at the airport.

Crowdsourcing elements for a story is a great idea. Opening the conversation up to the public allows Yoon to collect a varied cross-section of feedback to help build an interesting story, or as an opportunity to identify trends and common issues.

However, rather than build a story around the tweets sent to Yoon, the story is the tweets themselves with absolutely no analysis or value-added commentary whatsoever. It reads like a list of tweets because, essentially, that is all that it is.


Then there is the irony, The Nation is forever writing about the threat of digital – traditional media needs to be on its toes – and yet it routinely produces ‘stories’, like this example, which of are so short on quality that no amount of social media dust sprinkling can disguise it.

Is this really the best that The Nation can do with its biggest Twitter influencer Suthichai and his 119,000 plus followers?

Would a journalist at The Nation write an article which simply quoted members of the public with no introduction, analysis or conclusion? You would hope not.


A comment from Saksith Saiyasombut one of the contributors to fellow Asian Correspondent blog Siam Voices gives more analysis on The Nation and social media:

You can actually go worse as their ‘managing editor’ (but really he’s a self-styled preacher) Thanong showed as he actually patched together an article out of his OWN tweets:…

Well, I wanna go on a rant here (having worked there briefly) and give my two cents about Suthichai’s and The Nation’s understanding of social media: Suthichai has always been a fan of tech stuff and always tried to integrate it into the reporting at the newspaper. The problem though is: no matter if its video, blogs and now Twitter – he’s just throws stuff at the wall and doesn’t care what sticks and still wants to shoehorn it in.

Even worse, he just throws it into the newsroom and expects them to do something with it without actually saying what it might be good for. So, we do get these very bad examples of online videos, blogs and tweets which content and quality doesn’t go beyond mundane or to be more precise: nothing that has anything to do with reporting on current events! Granted, there now some genuine attempts at putting these to good use, but the tweets don’t go beyond just a shortened version of the post bag or straw polls.

In a nutshell the problem with their social media strategy is that they have NO strategy! Also, social media doesn’t replace good honest basic reporting, of which they are not even capable of!

Absolutely spot on, new media is only useful if it is used with a clear long-term objective, throwing it at the wall isn’t going to cut it… yet sadly many people believe and say that The Nation is good with social media.

Along Saksith’s lines, I’ve heard stories of journalists at The Nation being told to make use of new media but with little or no guidance. Sure they may have significant followers numbers, but how does that translate into success for The Nation? This is where the tactical approach is required and sadly lacking.