CNN ran a story on the massacre of thai preschoolers and apologized on Sunday for criticism that its journalists entered the nursery where the children were killed and filmed the crime scene without permission.
The two CNN journalists involved were fined after authorities discovered they had been working in the country after entering on tourist visas, but were cleared of wrongdoing for entering the daycare where more than 20 children were killed, the deputy director said. of the national police, Surachate Hakparn.
He said his investigation had determined that the journalists believed they had obtained permission to enter and film after being directed to enter the building by a volunteer or health officer, and were unaware that the person was not authorized to allow them to enter.
Each agreed to pay fines of 5,000 baht ($133) and leave the country, he said.
Both journalists apologized, as did CNN International Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike McCarthy.
In a statement, he said his reporters requested permission to enter the building, but the team “now understands that these officials were not authorized to grant this permission,” adding that “it was never their intention to break any rules.”
“We deeply regret any distress or offense our report has caused, and any inconvenience to law enforcement at such a distressing time for the country,” he said in the statement tweeted by CNN.
He said that CNN had stopped airing the report and had removed the video from its website.
Authorities began investigating the incident after a Thai reporter posted an image on social media of two crew members leaving the scene in northeast Thailand, where they reported on Thursday’s attack by a fired police officer who According to the authorities, he massacred 36 people, 24 of them children. One member of the CNN crew was seen scaling the low wall and fence around the complex, over the police tape, and the other was already outside.
That drew criticism from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, which said it was “dismayed” by CNN’s coverage and the decision to film the crime scene indoors.
“This was unprofessional and a serious violation of journalistic ethics in crime reporting,” the FCCT said.
The Thailand Journalists Association criticized CNN’s actions as “unethical” and “insensitive”, and called for an internal company investigation into the incident in addition to the official Thai investigation.
In an initial response, CNN tweeted that the crew had entered the facility as the police cordon had been removed from the center, and three public health officials leaving the building told them they could film inside.
“The team collected images inside the center for about 15 minutes and then left,” CNN said in its tweet. “During this time, the cordon had been put back in place, so the team had to jump the fence in the center to get out.”
Like the worst massacre in Thailand, the attack brought international media attention to the small town of Uthai Sawan in the country’s rural northeast. By Sunday, a few remained, but a slew of Thai media continued to report from the scene.
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