Another foreign journalist has gone public about his treatment and betrayal at Thailand’s biggest English language newspaper the ‘Bangkok Post’. 

Justin Heifetz, who like Erika Fry worked for the Bangkok Sunday Post Spectrum Section, the section which comes closest to running anything resembling quality journalism in the newspaper, has gone public, like his predecessor Erika Fry, on the Columbian Journalism Review about his run-ins with the newspaper.

In thinly veiled accusations he speaks as if some senior staff find truth a strange commodity.

Betrayal appears to be a byword, particularly it seems where foreigners are concerned.

Heifezt apparently took the mickey out of the Thai Navy and its plans to have a submarine base and upset an Admiral. Thailand has of course no submarines. Not that it can operate.

His quotes from the Admiral in relation to the story were not direct quotes but quotes taken from, he claimed, a piece by the Post’s military reporter – Wassana Nanumam, herself a well known personality and darling of Thailand’s armed forces, who would not see any joke in Thailand’s underwater capacity.

Wassana Nanuam (Linkedin)

Heifetz writes about the incident a year ago: “I drew on an earlier piece that quoted a rear admiral interviewed by the Post’s military reporter—and also a public figure—Wassana Nanuam. My article contained quotes he had given her in that article, which had been published earlier, in October. He had told the newspaper that having a submarine base was a matter of territorial integrity. 

“When my article was published in February, the rear admiral was incensed. He called Wassana the next day. Apparently, this was the first time he’d read these quotations. When he asked Wassana why she had quoted him, Wassana simply denied that she had. Their interview had been on the record, but her refusal to acknowledge the quotes left me vulnerable. The rear admiral threatened to sue me for defamation.”

He added:

“Journalists like me are only useful until we disrupt the cozy relationship between government and media. We’re used by senior editors to drum up expat readership in a country where paper hasn’t yet become obsolete—far from it. When we’ve exhausted our role, we’re discarded and replaced by carbon copies of ourselves before we became scared and jaded. 

“The Thai media model runs on local reporters—who make about $620 a month—and Western copy editors, who start at triple that salary, to turn their work into readable English for a large, mostly business-oriented expat audience. Newspapers like the Post rarely hire staff reporters because it’s not cost-effective. But having no Western bylines in a newspaper for Westerners is damaging to sales, so the Post relies on Western freelancers, intern reporters, and copy editors in their down time to contribute bylines.”

Anyway Heifetz hopped it after he said he was ‘forbidden by the paper’s editors from reporting on military affairs, or anything of major importance.’

“The reporters’ enemy in Thailand—the real trauma—is abandonment by our editors, our very own media, when the going gets tough.”

Another journalist on the Bangkok Post suffering from sour grapes?

Well who would not after treatment like that and the case of Heifetz is right up along their with the case of Erika Fry who had to flee after exposing the Director of Thailand’s National Innovation Agency for cheating  by massive plagiarism to get a masters degree.

You can read about Heifetz’s case here and Erika’s here.  The response by the Bangkok Post to Heifetz is particularly odious. The rambling response to Erika Fry is just that.

But then again there is of course yours truly Andrew Drummond, aka, The Flying Sporran.

 I wrote a story for the Bangkok Post about some dubious Scots businessman down in Pattaya. The Bangkok Post were supposed to be defending me.

Instead they did a deal with one of the dubious businessmen – and I took the fall. The Bangkok Post which published the story and created the headlines (which were not justified by the text of the story) were acquitted.

The Bangkok Post published a full apology. Two weeks ago the Supreme Court acquitted me – after some thirteen years.

Now of course if this was in the west I would now be suing the Bangkok Post and expecting a hefty sum in damages. However this is Thailand and that will not happen.

Sour grapes. You betcha! But in professional circles the BP is something of a laughing stock and only the presence of people such as Sunitsuda give the paper any sense of respectability.

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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