11 July 2024

CNN claims that they were allowed to report from inside the Nong Bua Lam Phu day care centre, the scene of the mass shooting of dozens of children last Thursday, following outrage among media organisations and online.

The news agency responded to a tweet by The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) that “CNN’s crew was filming at the Nong Bua Lamphu daycare centre with other media in a period when the centre’s police cordon had been removed. While filming, three public health officials exiting the building spoke to the team and told them they could film inside. The team gathered footage inside the centre for around 15 minutes, then left. During this time, the cordon had been put back in place, so the team needed to climb over the fence at the centre to leave.”

CNN’s statement was in response to The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT), which issued a statement yesterday, saying that the conduct of the CNN news team was unprofessional and a serious breach of journalistic ethics in crime reporting.

FCCT’s statement came after photos of CNN’s crew reporting inside Nong Bua Lam Phu daycare center and climbing over a fence, were widely shared on social media.

The FCCT said in its statement that the CNN coverage of the tragedy was not a scoop or an appropriate example of in depth reporting, because no other news organisation, foreign or local, was prepared to behave in this unethical manner, and any one of them could have done so.

“Thailand has been traumatised by this tragedy and is a constant and widespread effort to ensure that inappropriate images are not made public in both traditional and social media. Simple respect for the deceased and their families is but one of the reasons”, according to the statement.

“CNN meanwhile should answer a simple question. Would one of their crews have behaved in the same way at a serious crime scene in the United States?” asked the statement.

The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) also demanded that CNN investigate the conduct of its staff in Thailand for allegedly unprofessional and unethical coverage of the mass killings.

The TJA also demanded that Thai authorities find out who was responsible for allowing the CNN news crew to enter the active crime scene, which was clearly marked, and take the graphic images featured in its broadcast.

The TJA vice president for liberties, freedom and media reform affairs, Teeranai Charuvastra, said that CNN must be able to identify which officials were responsible for allowing them to enter the crime scene explain how the crew will be held accountable for the breach of ethics.

Even if the CNN crew was granted permission to enter the crime scene, Teeranai said that they should have realized that entering the crime scene was totally inappropriate, adding that the graphic images they broadcast were not in the public interest but, on the contrary, might hurt the families of those who were killed and wounded.

CNN, said Teeranai, has set a bad example for the other media organisations regarding professional reporting ethics.

Meanwhile, Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, the deputy national police chief, said that the conduct of the CNN crew could be constituted as intrusion into the crime scene and interfering with evidence.