I always feel a bit uncomfortable when they pay the media to attend events. For most of the reporters, it’s a bit like being paid twice. After all, it’s their job to be there anyway. And it’s not just for events. If you attend some press conferences you can also get paid money at the end of the event. Anywhere from 500 to 1,000 Baht. This is in addition to any free gifts that they give us and lunch if it is in the middle of the day. For independent bloggers like myself, it is sometimes handy to get some money to attend press conferences. After all, the cost of getting there and back has to come out of our own pocket. But, for the mainstream media, they go in company cars and so are never out of pocket. Today at the end of the Car Free Day event I was given this 500 Baht for attending. Why? It didn’t cost me any money to go as I went on my bicycle. And I would have attended anyway to take pictures for www.Paknam.com. So, I gave my 500 Baht to a student of mine who is in training to cycle to Chiang Mai during the upcoming school holidays. He will need it more than me.
So, what do you think, is this unethical to accept money that is slipped to the media? And where do you draw the line? I have seen politicians do it too when the media go to cover an event that they are participating in. Also, last year when we were following the governor for much of the day on his tour of flood hit areas, he handed out 1,000 Baht notes to everyone. Presumably from his own pocket. I didn’t want it but he insisted and the others said I was stupid not to accept. So, I took it and then gave the money to the Red Cross that was organizing their annual fair at that time. It just didn’t feel right.