Prachatai (Thai: ประชาไท, Free People) is an independent non-profit online newspaper in Thailand. Focusing on news from and commentary on NGOs, social movements, and human rights issues, the website became an alternative source for social and political news in a country where many media outlets are state backed, including military-run, or for-profit. Its current editor-in-chief is Tewarit Maneechay, with Pongpan Chumjai serving as general manager. The site publishes mainly in the Thai language, with selected articles in English.
|Legal status||Nonprofit foundation (The Foundation for Community Educational Media)|
History and objectivesEdit
The newspaper was established in June 2004 by a group of concerned Thais who included a senior member of the Press Council of Thailand, a well-known lecturer in journalism, two members of the Thai Senate, a number of senior journalists, and a number of Thai NGO leaders. On September 6, 2004, Prachatai began daily online publication. In January 2006, it registered as a non-profit foundation, named The Foundation for Community Educational Media. It has four stated objectives:
- To provide the Thai public with access to reliable news and information relevant to developing and strengthening the democratic functions of Thai civil society.
- To focus news coverage on the problems, concerns, activities and accomplishments of local communities and civil society movements and organisations.
- To strive for freedom and independence of Thai news media.
- To promote active public participation in Thai news media.
Prachatai, together with other selected Thai independent media (Budpage, Same Sky, Midnight University, Open, and Questionmark), was collectively curated as "Thai Bookazine" to participate in The Magazines project of the Documenta 12 exhibition.
In 2011, its then general manager, Chiranuch Premchaiporn, won the Courage in Journalism award from International Women's Media Foundation. Chiranuch, a well-known free speech advocate, has been subject to arrest and detention based on lèse majesté accusations for not removing what authorities deem offensive material quickly enough from the website. In this matter, she has received international acclaim and support. On 30 May 2012, the Criminal Court delivered its verdict in Black Case No. 1667/2553, in which Chiranuch faced ten alleged violations of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, being found guilty of one charge and being sentenced to one year in prison and a 30,000 baht fine, subsequently reduced to a suspended sentence of eight months and a 20,000 baht fine. Chiranuch appealed to both the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court, both of which upheld the sentence (the latter in 2015), establishing the precedent that Internet intermediaries are liable for lèse majesté content in Thailand.
In July 2016, one of Prachatai's reporters was arrested under the provisions of the 2016 Referendum Act, which effectively banned campaigning to reject the 2016 Thai constitutional referendum, together with three other people. The four were released on bail. Following the arrests, Prachatai’s offices were searched by the police, who were reportedly investigating whether the online newspaper had published material violating the Referendum Act. Nothing was found, and in 2018 the reporter was found to be not guilty of violating the Act, as were the others.
- Haberkorn, Tyrell (2014). Voices of a free media : the first ten years of Prachatai. Foundation for Community Educational Media (FCEM). ISBN 978-616-92252-0-1. OCLC 952643548.
- "About Prachatai English". Prachatai English. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
- "Bangkok Documenta Magazine NO.1". prachatai.com (in Thai). Retrieved 2020-09-17.
- kean (2015-11-08). "Magazines mania at Documenta 12". Medium. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
- Chiranuch Premchaiporn, Thailand - 2011 Courage in Journalism Award
- Pravit, Rojanaphruk. "Witness insists prachatai.com director guilty". The Nation Thailand. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
- "Thailand: Internet Trial a Major Setback for Free Speech". Prachatai English. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
- "THAILAND: Verdict in landmark freedom of expression case". Prachatai English. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
- "Supreme Court rules against Prachatai in Internet intermediary liability case". Prachatai English. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
- "Freedom of the Press 2017 - Thailand". Freedom House. 2017-04-28. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
- Srinualchan, Saichon. "Four activists, reporter acquitted in charter vote case". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 2020-09-17.