The president and four deans from Rajamangala University of Technology Phra Nakhon’s (RMUTP) Faculty of Mass Communication Technology and officials from the Ministry of Information paid a courtesy call on The Post recently.
The delegation was led by the Dean of Administration Duriyang Komkhum and included the university’s Acting President Assoc Prof Supatra Kosaiyakanont, Assoc Dean of Academic and Research Apinyapat Kusiyarungsit, Assoc Dean of Student Affairs Nuchjaree Bureerat and Assoc Dean of Planning Chantana Papatha.
Accompanied by ministry officials – the director of international cooperation Chan Vivath, and Dara Sat – and Hout Songhak from Koh Samtepheap Daily, they were met on arrival by The Post’s executive editor-in-chief Joshua Purushotman, chief operating officer James Ong and human resource and administration manager Pich Socheat.
During the visit, Komkhum expressed concern over the dissemination of inaccurate news and information on social media sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp, which has become a global concern, forcing the enactment in many countries of fake news laws as a countermeasure.
However, she said while Thailand has no fake news laws per se, laws that govern the misuse of communications technology have enough provisions to cover the dissemination of fake news and the penalties thereof.
She said eagerness to be first to file a story is among the underlying reasons why news and information is often not verified to high journalistic standards.
“Today, anyone with a smartphone can be a citizen journalist. They are untrained, and just shoot and upload pictures and video without verifying the information. This is the most common way in which fake news spreads.
“On the other hand, professional journalists have access to the relevant authorities such as the police and ministry spokespersons as well as NGOs and other independent agencies, so they can verify the information and obtain confirmation before disseminating accurate news online and in print.
“This is the difference between trained journalists and untrained citizens trying to be journalists through their blog sites and social media avenues.
“Ultimately, fake news can prompt protests, strikes and cause anarchy to reign in any country. This is dangerous for national political and social stability,” she stressed.
Komkhum also said that journalism graduates today prefer to be media owners rather than work as journalists as they view media ownership as a far more lucrative enterprise.
Hence, she said that final year mass communications students at RMUTP now study Creative Media, which she developed as a new subject.
“Within Creative Media, we teach core topics such as mass communications technology, content creation, creative thinking and entrepreneurship.
“These core topics equip our graduates with the relevant knowledge that they will require if they were to start a news site or become media entrepreneurs,” she said.
Komkhum also expressed surprise at the level of media freedom that exists in Cambodia. “We have been following the news and reading it online and in print, and there is far more media freedom here in Cambodia than in many other countries,” she said.
On post-graduate training for RMUTP students, Komkhum requested The Post take them in as interns, to which Purushotman agreed.
“We have had interns from all over the world learning the practical aspects of journalism at The Post, and we certainly welcome those from RMUTP.
“Our internship is usually for three or six months, and during this time, interns will initially be paired with a journalist and later do their own stories under supervision of senior journalists and editors,” he said.
Adding to this, Socheat said it is preferable that interns are willing to learn Khmer while on an internship at The Post. He said The Post has a “Khmer first” policy where Cambodian citizens are given priority for internships and full-time positions in the company.
“We are very strict with our interns. We want them to become professional journalists, and so we do our best to train them. They must produce, otherwise they will just waste their time and ours too,” he said.
The delegation later toured The Post’s offices where they were briefed on its operations, mobile app and video production. The RMUTP delegation then handed over a memento in remembrance of their visit.