CNN to be prosecuted for invasive daycare massacre coverage

PHOTO: CNN reporters climbed over police tape to film inside the daycare centre massacre crime scene. (via FCCT Facebook)

[UPDATE: Thai news source CatDumb Has reported on Facebook that police have now taken two reporters and a photographer from CNN immigration to have their visas revoked. It was suggested that they did not have the correct type of paperwork and were using a tourist visa instead of a work visa. At any rate, police informed the Immigration Department about the alleged illegal breach of the crime scene and requested that their visas be cancelled.]


Thai police are preparing to prosecute reporters from the American news channel CNN for their invasive coverage of the Nong Bua daycare centre massacre. Authorities claim that they climbed over police tape in and out of the site of the massacre that took the life of 38 people – 24 of them young children – and filmed video inside. They say that evidence was tainted in the process.

Controversial Police Lieutenant General Surachate, “Big Joke” Hakparn announced plans to pursue legal action against the 24-hour news network for interfering with the evidence in the massacre case. Interfering with government or police investigations carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

Big Joke explained that the massacre crime scene is controlled by the Uthai Sawan Subdistrict Administrative Office and they must grant permission before anyone can enter the area or the building. The office will file a criminal complaint today and Big Joke vowed to follow up on the charges against CNN.

Authorities say the area is still closed as evidence is still being gathered and entrance is strictly controlled. A Thai journalist captured photos of the CNN staff claiming over police tape to exit the area. Police say journalists at CNN must have been aware that they were entering a forbidden area and must be charged under the Thai criminal code.

CNN International PR responded on Twitter with an official statement defending the journalists who entered the building. They claim that the police tape blocking the area had been briefly removed and during that time their crew, along with other media, entered the building and filmed.

“CNN’s crew was filming at the Nong Bua Lamphu daycare centre with other media in a period when the centre’s police cordon has been removed. While filming, three public health officials exiting the building spoke to them and told them they could film inside. The team gathered footage inside the centre for around 15 minutes, then left. During this time, the cordon had been set back in place, so the team needed to climb over the fence at the centre to leave.”

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) took to Facebook to condemn the CNN crew’s actions. They say the crime scene was clearly marked and CNN knowingly entered anyway. They said it showed a lack of respect for the dead victims and their families following an occurrence that is all-to-common in the US but exceedingly rare in Thailand.

The FCCT said Thailand has been improving its old style of sharing shocking crime scene photos of violence and gore. They commended the other reporters on the scene for respecting the boundaries of the crime scene even though photos or videos are immensely sought after in the media and on social media. The FCCT asked if reporters would have broken the rules if they had been in the US.

“This was unprofessional and a serious breach of journalistic ethics in crime reporting. It was not a scoop or an example of penetrating reporting because no other news organization, foreign or local, was prepared to behave in this unethical manner, and any one of them could have done so.”

Northern Thailand News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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