EDITORIAL: Let us turn our attention to the future
BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) - The demise of The Nation’s print edition will do nothing to diminish our dedication to responsible and impartial reporting.
This is final editorial to appear in the printed edition of The Nation. The farewell edition appearing tomorrow – three days shy of the newspaper’s 48th July 1 birthday – will be wholly devoted to looking back and looking forward.
Because The Nation is indeed forging ahead as a news and information outlet worthy of your attention and trust. The Nation website will continue to feature many of the same editors, reporters and photographers – including, yes, the popular editorial cartoonist Stephff – in our determination to carry on serving our readers in a professional and responsible manner, just as we have done for almost half a century.
A promising young journalist named Suthichai Yoon co-founded what was originally The Voice of the Nation in 1971 as an alternative to the two foreign-owned English-language newspapers then in operation. In its debut editorial, the upstart newspaper proudly proclaimed itself “Thailand’s only locally owned English daily”. Atop the front page on July 1, 1971, was an article headlined “The how and why of The Nation”, in which the original editorial team pledged: “The Nation will be a responsible newspaper that follows an independent and impartial editorial policy.”
Subsequent managers and staff members have kept that promise dutifully over the past 48 years, despite occasionally having to overcome daunting political, economic, social and even religious obstacles.
From its first issue, The Nation has reported changes both progressive and regressive occurring in this country, in addition to covering important events across the region and around the world. We brought readers accounts of the global clash of political ideologies – between liberal democracy and communism during the drawn-out Cold War – as well as armed conflicts and insurgencies in neighbouring states and here at home. There was little in the news that The Nation ever missed or neglected.
The military coup in Bangkok on November 18, 1971, came just about four months after the newspaper began operating and was given thorough coverage and analysis, as were the awful events that ensued the next year. And we have continued to cover every shift in government ever since, whether peaceful or by force. In the meantime, there was everything in between – all the important firsts and lasts, all the moments happiest and saddest, all the days bright or gloomy.
We believe that during these nearly five decades we have attended to and even exceeded the mass media’s basic duties of informing, educating and entertaining while maintaining journalistic values. Generations of Nation journalists have served the public interest to the best of their ability and have taken deserved pride in being members of “the press”.
To be sure, not everyone was pleased all the time. We have heard criticism as well as praise for our work. We nevertheless stand by our claim to always have borne in mind the responsibility of staying true to the fundamentals of journalism. The Nation survived multiple difficulties, some of which threatened our very existence. The 1997 economic crisis dealt a severe blow to our industry. More than one authoritarian regime came to view The Nation as an enemy.
For people, 48 represents middle age. For this newspaper, it’s time for a major change.
We were born in the age of linotype, a hot-metal typesetting system in which individual letters were cast in lead and arranged in blocks of type spelling out words and sentences. That was replaced in quick succession by phototypesetting, offset lithography printing and computer typesetting. Now we arrive in the digital age, with most people getting their news and information from phones and other paperless devices, and with advertisers funnelling their cash into the new media. Printed publications around the world have yielded to the onslaught of digital disruption, and now The Nation joins them.
We do not view the death of our print edition entirely with sadness. We understand the changes occurring and we are ready to adapt and move forward. The Nation’s editorial team remains resolved to keep the promise made on the front page 48 years ago, a vow of responsibility, independence and impartiality. It's a promise we intend to keep.