Happy Birthday Citylife the best little mag in the north

In Flying Sporran, Uncategorised by Andrew Drummond5 Comments

Bangkok, July 12 2011

If you live anywhere else but Chiang Mai you may not know but this month the magazine Citylife celebrates its 20th birthday. It would be totally remiss if I did not wish them well here.
Alongside the dogged Phuketwan online news site, Citylife is one of my favourite reads. It does not break stories, it does not take on the establishment, apart from boss Pim’s editorials, but nevertheless it’s regularly an interesting read and one never gets the feeling it is hiding anything.
Left: Pim – impeccable pedigree
There is some entertaining stuff between the adverts and it tackles some weird and wonderful stuff. In terms of advertising it seems to have cleaned up in Chiang Mai.
Of course I am biased because I like the guys up there, but at least Citylife is not like other English language newspapers, more often than not vehicles for meglomaniacs which are so common in Thailand.
Can’t some English language newspapers in Thailand be a depressing read, especially the ones in the provinces?  Well, all newspapers can be. But I want to be depressed by news not piles of self promoting blurb.
Dubious foreigners
These newspapers are often owned by foreigners of dubious background, who crow on about the wonderful city in which they live. They  follow the police, and local authority line on every story and expect us to believe it. Their insincerity knows no bounds as they profile one scoundrel after another to the level of canonisation.
The reinvention of themselves has become an art form of a juvenile nature.
In this respect Pattaya excels. Most Pattaya newspapers appear to be there for the glory of the owner/editor.
These people do little to improve the editorial of their products so even today the television outlets still do not know how to present television news. One, for instance, ten years on, monotonously still reads the headline twice in case we did not get it the first time round.
Plaques galore; this one to newspaper editors from the British Legion!
Week after week their owners appear in print doing something good, even though back home they may have been less than savoury. Are they truly reborn?
Some even appear to have spider like skills in jumping in front of the camera to get themselves photographed with a local dignitary.
Charity work is always good for projection.  But most often they promote their other property and law businesses, their real ‘raison d’etre’.
None have any interest in journalism.  To say some of these guys are businessmen is not complimentary to the business community..
They all sit behind desks, dozens of plaques on the walls around them for winning ‘Best this’ or ‘Best that’ – seemingly competitions in which no-one else is asked to compete. They are more decorated than Woodward and Bernstein and seem to only seek to confirm ‘We are all in each other’s pockets so you’d better watch out!’
The owners promote themselves in editorials using such expression as ‘fearless’ and they praise their investigation teams to the heavens. But we all know these investigators do not exist and in any case could not investigate their way out of a paper bag even if they actually could summons up the desire to. 
One editor after being thrown though a glass restaurant front claimed it was because he was taking on so called foreign mafia.
Of course had he really been taking on the mafia he would not be boasting about it.
Another newspaper brazenly places the logo of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand  in its editorial page stating it is a member, when actual members know this is a clear breach of club ethics.
Another owner claims, falsely, that he is instructed in law and journalism (to degree level) and that he was invited to Thailand to set up business to help the country.  Some saviour.
Some of the things happening in newspapers in Thailand would make the disgraced News of the World look like  the Jehovah’s witness publication ‘Watchtower’.
They report arrests, but rarely report the outcome because they never go to the courts. They do not care.
In one case I know, a journalist, was also a policeman, and a legal representative. Thus he could interview a defendant, as a policeman (using a stun gun, I am not kidding, in one case) then as a journalist, and finally as the man’s legal representative.
Of course he had different prices for keeping his victims out of the newspaper, for bail and acquittal, and could even offer a police bodyguard service at a price.
Exceptions are rare and when they shine we should acknowledge them. Pim Kemasingki and her team are amongst them. I wish them a great birthday.  They are a breath of fresh air.
Read: Andrew Drummond in Citylife magazine


  1. Tin

    Some very interesting online history articles in that mag. I once sent Pim a question about a long dead inmate of the Foreign Cemetery. She knew a lot about the subject from her own background and experience, but also forwarded my query to two very informative historic article writers who took a real interest in my query. Keep up the good work Pim!

  2. newbie

    She is a talented and sincere journalist. Her professionalism shines through particularly in her editorials

    Always a good read

    Congratulations Kim

  3. Andrew Drummond

    Thanks mate. Corrected I hope. Sometimes I stare for hours but don't see them. You can always just leave a message rather than public humiliation though. But point the ones you spot.

  4. James

    I've gotta say Andrew you're on the nail here. On the subject of Newspaper Birthdays, you should have been at the Pattaya Blag's 10th Birthday Party – It was a long time ago but the pain remains – Pure self promotion, the fat man dishing out his largesse and the usual suspects playing their part fawning at the feet of their publicist.

    Without even looking at this week's offering I know the Blag will be promoting the same five or six business, Kim will be in there somewhere as will the the rust headed harridan from the Ladies Club – The sad doctor will be churning out more of the same while the QROPS Carpet Baggers will be holding centre stage.

    And we haven't got to the Whore Munger who runs the local kid's charity – Interviewed but never asked what his day job is.

    It's a shame they don't print it on softer paper.

    EDIT: False name changed to another false name of the publication, as the original name sounded very much like an existing rag.

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