The Phuket Gazette English Language Newspaper In Thailand
THE PHUKET GAZETTE
The Phuket Gazette is the local English language newspaper for Phuket Thailand. The paper was established in 1993 by American John Magee. The paper is partially owned by and has a partnership agreement with The Nation , another large English Newspaper in Thailand. The Phuket Gazette is the main source of news and information for residents of the Island of Phuket. They have a TV station, online classifieds, yellow pages and they offer a wide variety of advertising options for local businesses. The Phuket Gazette virtually has a monopoly when it comes to media and advertising in Phuket. I would compare them to Phuket's version of big bad evil companies such as eBay, Paypal or Microsoft. In this article I will discuss some of my concerns with the company, and assess the value of their advertising options and the content on their website.
The hard copy of the Phuket gazette appears on the shelves of a few stores and restaurants and hotels in Phuket. Only a few people browse through this paper because the little content they do have is burried in glossy full page ads. Many of the classifieds are only printed online, so locals almost never purchase the hard copy. They do not print daily news, they only print 1 hard copy per week, so many of the story's are already old news by the time the paper is printed.
Most of what you read in the paper whether it be online at their website, or in the hard copy is actually censored. This is common practice for all media in Thailand and other Asian countries. Many of the stories printed are missing important facts, or leaving out important details. Certain events are simply left unreported because it is too controversial. It is the opinion of many locals that the newspaper prints the news as local officials would like to have it reported, therefore the facts are always in question.
The Phuket Gazette is notorious for printing mistakes or non factual information and in some cases they do not bother to correct it or explain it. I can think of several high profile murder cases where they have printed the wrong name of the suspect involved. It is very common to read about a high profile crime in the Phuket Gazette, and then read about the same crime in a local Thai Language newspaper, and the events, times places and names may all be different. This is not always because the Phuket Gazette has made an error, it is also common with other media in Thailand. Often stories are printed based on information from poor translations or from unreliable sources.
THE CUSTOMER SERVICE
The Phuket Gazette is very difficult to deal with. The office is run by a group of Thai women, and typically they are very disinterested and they like to make you wait. It is very difficult to speak to anyone that is able to offer you any real assistance. In 2002 I opened a mini storage business in Phuket and I decided to spend 500USD on a half page ad in the hard copy of the Phuket gazette (a big mistake). My company name was AAAStorage, but to my horror, they published a half page ad that read "AAASPORAGE" on top of this they also printed the wrong phone number. When I brought this to their attention I demanded compensation, and I expected them to offer to print a full page ad in order to make things right. In the end after several arguments they refused to offer any compensation, and said that the mistake was my fault for not coming in to double check what their artist had done.
THE PHUKET NANNY STORY
In 2009 there was a high profile case about a Burmese nanny that allegedly killed a newborn baby. The way that Phuket Gazette reported this story is something that I find particularly disturbing. The story was a tragic story, that alleged that a Burmese nanny had suffocated a newborn baby, the Gazette was running headlines such as "baby killer" and other distasteful expressions. The story was that a single mother, left her baby alone with a hired Burmese nanny for days or weeks on end without returning home, and most nights not sleeping in the home.
The story suggested that the mother was busy working in a travel shop just a 5 minute drive away from her house. It was suggested that the mother was too busy with business, so she would sleep in the travel shop. Well I used to own a travel shop, and I know that you do not sell many tours after 11pm, so if your home was 5 minutes away, and you have a newborn, you should be sleeping at home.
The mother told police that she returned home after several days of working hard, but did not check on her baby until the next day after she had taken a shower, and only then did she discover the baby lifeless in the crib. This case was closed before it was ever opened, the police are more than happy to blame the nanny, after all she is not Thai, she is Burmese. Thai people do not think highly of Burmese and they are are extremely racist in the way they treat them. While the circumstances of the story showed little to no evidence to suggest the nanny had anything to do with the killing, the police had already decided she was guilty and that was the story that was printed.
I followed this story in local Thai language media and I heard a report that the mother actually admitted killing her own child just a few days after the story broke. I brought this to the attention of the editor of the Phuket Gazette and I did not receive any reply to confirm or deny this. The story of the "Guilty Nanny" is still live on the Gazette website.
COMMENT ON THE STORY
The online version of the Phuket Gazette gives you the option to comment on any story that is printed. The normal rules apply. such as no threats or insults or use of foul language. After reading the story of the Phuket Nanny, I felt that I had to comment on this story. I found out quickly that the editor does not like controversy. All my comments were mature and without any insults, threats or foul language, however the Gazette refused to print many of them. In fact, they even changed many of my comments, using their own words, saying what they wanted to say, and putting these words in my name. If you read the comments today, you will have to realize that many of those comments were not written by me, but by the editor of the Phuket Gazette.
The Phuket Gazette used to offer free classifieds in their online publication, and only charge for classifieds in their hard copy. When this was the case, they had a great service and many people utilized this service. Nowadays they charge more for a basic classified ad than many newspapers in large western cities. The online classifieds do get quite a bit of exposure, however the classifieds in the hard copy have almost no value. The problem is, it will cost you about 30USD just for 1 ad. There are free alternatives, such as Thai Visa, and craigslist.com.
Both the hard copy and the website are so full of ads that most locals have trained their eyes to look away. The cost of advertising in the Phuket Gazette is probably not worth the return for your money.There are better ways to advertise your business in Phuket. I would recommend an effective article marketing strategy using a professional advertising company that is willing to offer more for less money. There are plenty of ways to advertise that are better value than expensive ads in the Phuket Gazette.