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Excitement strikes, and no one was killed

I was in this square about twenty minutes before this happened: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/463328/update-paragon-bombs-homemade

Just as I was beginning to lull myself into thinking that this city wasn’t so crazy after all. I’ve been exploring a bit each day, filling in the blank spaces between metro stops in my head. Seeing familiar faces, all these kind smiles most everywhere I go. It was certainly an abrupt wake-up call, and has been an intriguing story to follow in the time that has lapsed since as well.

I was at the gym yesterday evening, about 24 hours after the incident. There was a Thai talk show on the TV, and while unfortunately I couldn’t understand the words that were being said, the expressive faces of the anchors were fascinating. A very passionate looking plump man was talking loudly with a face that can only be described as indignant, as if he was saying that whoever was responsible for such an act of terrorism had better watch out, this wasn’t an acceptable act in a nation whose nationalism is tied with pacifism in the eyes of so many Thais. As if to reinforce this point, the next person brought on was a stony-eyed, intimidating looking policeman in a ball cap. He stoically spoke for a few minutes, presumably about the police reaction to what happened, and the segment ended, cutting back to the pre-recorded European soccer game that was playing before.

The front page of the Bangkok Post, read on my way to school this morning, illustrates what I have found to be an interesting dichotomy of the press here between asking difficult questions and answering them with confoundingly small number of sources. Rumors were about that perhaps the bomb detonation was staged by the government as a way to justify continued use of martial law when many Thais are calling for a return to democracy.

Thailand rates rather low on the Press Freedom Index, and that is something I have been trying to uncover the basis behind since I arrived here. While it was intriguing to see the front page of the major national publication questioning the government in such a critical manner, reading the story makes you realize it follows the basic structure of all stories here. The only sources used are officials from the government. It is an incredibly frustrating way of wrapping up a story with little information. It’s interesting to ponder, as a journalism student in America, about the nuances of working in the press in a foreign nation. It would be difficult to understand not only which buttons to push while still getting published, but also the national psyche that will determine how the material is consumed and interpreted. I find myself frustrated that I can’t read the Thai newspapers here that I see being toted about by so many people, read on the side of the street and in restaurants and on the bus.

You can find the last article here: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/464446/army-denies-martial-law-plot

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