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About Merlyn on Media

Merlyn Reineke is Executive Director of Montgomery Community Media, which provides media training and community-based content by-and-for the residents of Montgomery County. Merlyn’s blog focuses on all-things media, with an emphasis on how community-based media can make our county a better place to live, work and play.... Read more

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Mindset is More Important than Money (PHOTOS)

Merlyn Reineke and Supinya Klangnarong

Merlyn Reineke and Supinya Klangnarong

“Tell me, and I will forget.
Show me, and I may remember.
Involve me, and I will understand.”

That line, written 2500 years ago by Confucius, is one of my favorite quotes… and was my opening slide during the third and final day of Thailand’s first public conference on Community Media. While Confucius didn’t know much about video production, he did appreciate the power of learning by hands-on experience. The 100 or so Thais gathered today in downtown Bangkok are hopeful that by launching Community Media centers across their country starting in 2018, they can teach their people how to create media that helps them express their ideas and engage with one another in ways they have been unable to before.

In this last day of the conference, there was much discussion about how to avoid “undue influence” from Thai politicians in both content and operations of Community Media centers. Many attendees were concerned that elected officials could somehow hold sway over or even take outright control of these local TV channels in some communities. And there was an undercurrent across all three days of the conference as to whether the military (currently in control of the major parts of the government following the 2014 coup) would even allow Community Media to move forward at all. I was told privately that there were efforts to communicate to the military on the great benefits of Community Media, and I hope those engagements prove helpful.

Of course, there is always the concern about funding Community Media. Many of the provinces are far from tourist-laden Bangkok, and are filled with poor agricultural communities. Being able to establish small media operations would be enormously beneficial to many Thais as they work to leap over the digital divide. While National Telecommunications Commission member Supinya Klangnarong (shown in the photo) hopes to pry open some federal support following successful spectrum auctions she’s spearheaded, there’s no guarantee of one-time let alone ongoing government financial support for Community Media. But as Ms. Supinya said today, “Mindset is more important than money.”

The Thais are a creative and resilient culture, managing to stave off colonial domination by the British as few other societies could, and so they take the long view of history. And while this is largely a Buddhist nation, Confucius could have had the leaders of Thailand’s Community Media movement in mind when he wrote: “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

No matter the challenges, I think the Thais will find their path.

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About Merlyn Reineke

Merlyn Reineke is Executive Director of Montgomery Community Media, which provides media training and community-based content by-and-for the residents of Montgomery County.


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