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Thai Newspapers – An addicting read

image 041211dailynews.jpgThai newspapers are definitely very different from the foreign press. As one of my goals Thai language goals was to be able to read the newspaper, I’ve been practicing for a while. What used to be grueling work, complete with a dictionary and poor comprehension, is slowing becoming an addictive obsession. It is an insight into the Thai psyche you can’t get though the foreign press, and besides it is just tremendously entertaining.

First off, the Thai papers are in general a hard read. I would say for someone learning English, who had about a 6th grade education, they would be able to pick up an English paper and read it quite easily. The same doesn’t appear to be true for a Thai newspaper. There are a lot of idioms and special vocabulary reserved only for newspapers. Then of course there are all the other idiosyncrasies of written Thai – the most annoying one is that some words are only used in a written context. This means when I come across a new word, I also need to find out if I use it in conversation will I look like an idiot or not.

Today I’m looking at the front page of two major Thai newspapers, Daily News and Thai Rat. The image from above is Daily News. The 14 year old girl with the bad eye was beaten up when she refused to give some money to some other students who demanded money so they could go buy cigarettes. The police are now investigating. This is also the main headline story (headline is not in the picture).

The other picture (lower part) is the arrest of a 33 year old woman who was involved in an unsavory business of sending 2 girls (age 17 and 22) off to Malaysia to work in a unreputable karaoke bar.

Then there is a story of train track inspectors having the good fortune to discover a bomb attached to the track before the train came (South Thailand).

Another story is about a crackdown of CD and DVD sellers in Bangkok who sell either porn or phony movies.

Thai Rat has the 14 year old getting beaten up for cigarette money (but not as the major story), a story on Siamese twins, a deformed cow and a homeless drunkard who apparently died in the night in a public pavilion. On a more serious note, there is a story about Taksin’s take on the upcoming elections. The public must be careful not to chose politicians who use underhanded methods to buy their way into politics, as it will cause Thailand to lose its reputation and good standing.

My favorite story of the year is the Net porn story that broke out about 6 months ago. This was on the front page with in depth developments most of two weeks examining minutia related to the events surrounding the story. This has lead to some porn paranoia stories — there was recently a front page story in which two young teenagers girls were ‘supposedly’ secretly taped having sex (with some acquaintances) and then blackmailed into having sex with a third person (the video man) and also paying 7500 baht apiece hush money. Finally a set of circumstances led to the arrest of the video man, who it turned out had only been bluffing about the tape, and had a record for doing shakedowns of various kinds.

If I was reading the same kind of stories I would choose to read in English, I would be bored stiff. At least now I can understand why Thai newspapers seem to be an addicting read.

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