Moving Headlines

DEBBY NG
May 21, 2010
*Special to asia!

Do stories make the news, or does the news make the stories?

My mornings go like this: As I raise from bed, enroute to the bathroom, I pop open the monitor of my laptop and hit the power-on button. I pause to make sure the light comes on and that the machine is infact powered up, before I get on with freshening up. By the time I'm done, and return to my desk, my browser would have loaded with my Morning Coffee - a plug-in I installed on my browser that loads up pages of interest: my two web email accounts, social media accounts, blogs, news sites, magazine sites, and other sites of interest that have been customised to automatically rotate throughout the week.

For the past two weeks, this has been a particularly tideous process. In the headlines, have been images, videos, and words conveying chaos, pain and suffering in the neighbouring nation of Thailand. Since I returned from Nepal in late April, events in Thailand have consistently escalated. The pictures got bloodier, and the stories got more intense. Then on May 20, after an offensive by the military against the red shirt protestors, a curfew that threatened to shoot looters and arsonists, was imposed. By this time, key protest leaders had surrended, calling on their camps to halt the violence.

 


 

My morning today was routine. However, when I arrived at my desk to observe the headlines, it was like staring into the dark. News of Thailand was no longer in the headlines.

As reports of an unexpected jump in jobless claims in the United States hit Asian markets at the back of the knee, regional markets have reacted by taking a dramatic turn south. On the front page of Aljazeera.net was a deflated-looking broker at the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Second in line was North Korea threatening war following claims by South Korea that a North Korean torpedo sank their warship.

Scrolling down, I found, hidden in the thumbnails below, somewhere amongst the bullet points, a line that read "Thai government extends curfew". This article was basically an expansion of last nights news with a few minor updates.

News from Wall Street, and of the North Korean war threat also made it to the front page of BBC. The difference was, despite scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page, I found no news about Thailand.

So maybe this doesn't make for global news anymore. The same way news about the debt of Greece doesn't make it to the headlines here. Even when it does, it doens't stay in the headlines for long.

I figure a regional news network like Channel News Asia would give me some insight into the Thai situation. Turns out, there was nothing in the main headlines either, but it still made the headlines in the regional news section, "Thai army says central Bangkok to be secured within hours". News to comfort us and tell us that everything is under control and being sorted out. The article included a quote by an army spokesperson, "Utility services such as power, water, public transportation in the area will be fully restored." This goes without saying. Eventually, these functions would have to be restored.

On the same day, an article in Asiaone.com attempted to discuss how Singaporean businesses in Bangkok were affected by the protests. It included several quotes by Mr Patrick Wee, the founder and chief executive of a chain of Singapore-owned fitness centers in Bangkok, "In order not to disrupt our members' workout routines, they had the option of utilising the other two unaffected fitness centres."

I felt slightly disoriented, and borderline nauseous.

Has the story petered, or has the news petered? Is this the quiet at the end of the storm, or are we in the eye of it?

Time to visit some Thai blogs.

The top post at Mythailandblog.com had a video of a burning Central World and Siam Theatre, shot just hours before I began this blog post. The second post detailed the efforts of firefighters trying to quell smouldering sections of Central World and other major shopping malls. The blogger also mentioned which areas were left undisturbed by looters and arsonists. He also explained how some shop keepers were returning to the area to check if their shops had been affected. His blog also included pictures of deserted streets. Apart from the civil forces, there were no persons or vehicles on the streets. So it is apparent that public transport has not been restored, there would be no need for it at this point anyway.

Fully aware that writers need time to write stories, especially if they don't have editors (i.e. Blog writers), it would be unreasonable to assume that most of them would be in the field at the moment, hence the absence of news. Time for Twitter.

 

The MRT Subway at Silom & Khlong Toei are expected to be repaired by Fri & Queen Sirikit by Sat /via

 

debby ngDebby Ng forayed into journalism following failed attempts at becoming a world-class equestrian. A wildlife crime investigator, underwater photographer, dive master and founder of a marine conservation organisation, she spends what remains of her time writing about the environment, its wildlife, and its people.

Contact Debby

www.debbyng.net

www.pulauhantu.org