Treading the line

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19 thoughts on “Treading the line

  1. Yes, that's the risk of writing reviews. I think you've done the right thing by writing the way you thought.

    Other question is, should you have written the review in the first place? I mean, did you pick the establishment or did someone else do that?

    Hope you can survive without too much harm done. And for the "victim" of the review: heh.. start improving. Now!

  2. As long as you sign your review and can back up your point, I don't see where is the problem. This is freedom of speech.

  3. What exactly have you done wrong Matt?

    Did the 'establishment in question' complain to the paper you work at? I don't see how they could, in their right mind, expect that simply buying advertising space in your paper equates to corralling the publication into part of their PR machine.

    Even if your colleagues disagreed with your review of the venue – you were the one paid to write the review based on your opinion, not theirs.

    I think you are in the right. Papers that submit themselves to the whims of their advertisers lose significant credibility in my eyes.

    Cya on the 23rd.


  4. Well I argued my case for the points I was making, which is why the review made it to print. I had planned to write the review for a few weeks before the event, so it was always coming.

    I don't think too much harm will be done, but I understand that there were some heated discussions over the phone yesterday.

  5. The issue of editorial versus advertising happens everywhere – not just in Thailand. In the UK I was working for a newspaper and one of our biggest advertisers was in court on a Trading Standards charge. Did we cover it? No – because the advertiser threatened to pull its advertising if we did. And I think 90% of publications anywhere in the world would have done exactly the same.
    I think the cudos your publication will get for writing an honest review is not going to be taken into account by the vast majority of your readers. How many bad reviews do you actually see in the Thai media?
    I know in the UK a bad review in The London Evening Standard, for example, can literally make or break a restaurant but that's the exception and it's taken a long time for their writers to establish that reputation. Similarly with Time Out!. Readers and advertisers know you cannot buy a good review in those publications but I don't think the same canbe said for any publication in Thailand right now.

  6. Yes. I first came across this when I was writing for my student paper and the owner of a nightclub emailed in and accused me of not even attending an event I had attended. This is an interesting subject. We'll see how it pans out.

  7. Be VERY careful with reviews. Thailand is not like modern western democracies. Businesses will NOT put up with negative comments and will hunt you down…with the full force of the law on their side. I wish I can remember the names of reviewers who've ended up in the poo the past coupe of years. There have been a few, and I'm sure a Google search will reveal some of them. It invariably ends in tears…and the exchange of a large amount of money. The law is NOT on your side here.

  8. Well I hope it doesn't go that far. The issue is proving to be quite the controversy in some respects. I think everyone will be appeased, though.

  9. A review is mostly the writer's opinion. I read certain movie reviewers based on how their previous movie reviews matched up with my opinion of the movie. People see things differently and as long as they state why they liked or disliked something, people can make up their own judgment on how they value the reviewer's opinion. For some people that you disliked the place, might actually be a positive :) I can remember a work colleague telling me once a movie was "too serious" and it was not fun. This was enough for me to know I would like it.

    Obviously, if a reviewer states that the place was filthy and crawling with rats and it isn't then we are talking about facts. This can be defamatory.

  10. "I want cutting edge. I want honesty. I want innovation."

    Work in another country then.
    This is the Land of No Change.

  11. Completely depends on who pays your salary.

    You know the terms.

    Most reviews in Bangkok publications you can't trust anyway because the writer's prefer to be dined and wined.

    Otherwise freelance. There may still be a market for honesty. Whereas honesty may be a matter of taste.

  12. The point that a lot of advertisers don't get is that if a publication always writes PR-puff, then readers lose interest, hence no one buys the paper, hence their advertising dollars (or baht) are not well spent as no one will see their ad.

    Honest writing sells, creates interest, and is ultimately good for advertisers in the long-term.

    Don't sweat it, man! In an ideal world, you should have never been told about the advertiser's complaint, as your job is to create good content, not please the advertisers.

  13. I agree with Lana's comments to a certain extent. Yes – in an ideal world journalists and advertising staff should not mix and there should be no pressure put on one by the other. I disagree that readers lose interest in PR puff though. Most of the Thai media contains exactly that, either as blatant advertising puff or paid-for stories that aren't instantly identifiable as advertising, and it makes good money for the publishers. And in the end no publication will survive without support from advertisers in one for or another. To imagine anything else is just wishful thinking, sadly.

  14. K-o-C – That columnist made comments that Tesco claims are not factual. I think any reporter, here or in the UK or in most places for that matter, would be sued for libel it they reported something that isn't true.

    If someone wrote something about my magazine that wasn't true I would take action, especially if those comments had to potential to negatively impact on the business.

    In Matt's case as long as the comments in his original story were factual and can be substantiated there's nothing wrong – other than an irate advertisers who might withdraw his advertising. But that's something more than legal issues.

  15. yea true.. i guess i was just pointing out an example where a local journalist has been singled out by a major corporation… in my experience a lot of thai journalists think they can write anything they like (such as unresearched rumours) and then just print an article to the contrary the next day if it rouses any complaints.

  16. Yeah, you're right K-o-C. I've personally been misquoted or quoted directly saying something I did not say at least three times in the last 12 months. Part of that is down to the language issue, but not all of it.

  17. After reading the article, it seems the only negative words you had to say were about the event and not the establishment itself.

    In fact, you praised the establishment and their staff while the visiting DJ got bad press over his choice of music.

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