Editorial: April 2017
I’ve been feeling rather out of sorts of late. Looking out into a dystopianesque world through a filter of thick haze, reading comments to our online articles accusing us of being fake news, and editing our cover story about crickets and bugs as a future alternative food source…it all seems a tad surreal and disconcerting.
There isn’t much more I can say about pollution. All of us breathe in the air toxins and look out to see it through tear-filmed eyes. As writers, we report on PM levels, on the rare arrest of a fire starter, on government announcements about efforts to combat burning and on the number of people falling ill with respiratory problems. It all feels like d้jเ vu, an annual litany of reports that could, on the most part, have its date changed year on year, without requiring an actual write-up (but rest assured, required or not, we don’t regurgitate content!).
It has also been most perplexing and frustrating to have been accused in the past month or so by a surprising number of readers online of being fake news. These accusations have been piling up, with at least five people so far calling us fake news since the advent of Donald Trump. I admit that it has gotten under my skin. We are a tiny media house in a small city in northern Thailand, struggling to survive against the onslaught of new media and a flailing economy. The only things keeping us going are our integrity and reputation…and of course your kind support. So as I write about refugees finding dignity in the present and possibilities for the future, as I edit articles about ‘pretties’ whose efforts under the knife and willingness to share their cleavages to millions of followers earn them up to 100,000 baht a day, I have been feeling off. The world just doesn’t feel kiltered.
On a chirpier, and solidly marvellous note, I want to congratulate Kathrin Khanchanok Kemmler, 17, from Lanna International School for being the first northern winner in a decade of the Junior Dublin Literary Awards held last month. Citylife has been organising the northern part of the competition alongside The Nation for ten years, during which none of our talented students have grabbed the coveted prize. Each year we receive around 200 essay submissions from all over the north, filtering out around a third for being dishearteningly plagiarised, and enjoying the talents of the rest of the students whose English essay writing skills are genuinely impressive. Three of the previous northern winners joined us as interns following their wins, and I am pleased to report that all three of them are now writers for successful publications in the US, The Netherlands and the UK. This year, Kathrin wrote a smart, touching and well thought out piece — which you can read in our pages this month — about how all of our journeys interact, intercept and leave impressions. By the time you read this editorial, she will likely be on her way to Dublin, Ireland to attend the Dublin Literary Awards, a fantastic prize for her and a companion who will get to enjoy an expense-free week in Ireland, meeting some of the world’s great writers. It is her world view of the future, her message of how all of our actions affect one another and how we are not alone in this journey of life, that is re-kiltering my current wonky world.
Adding to the unsettling issues mentioned, we are doing our best to settle into our new home in Meechok, following our move out of Wat Gate this month. We also have an inordinate number of interns, filling our newly downsized space to the brim, and producing an incredible amount of content which you can find daily on our web site www.chiangmaicitylife.com. This also means that you have a lot of quality articles to read this month and I hope you enjoy each and every one of them.
One intern, an ex refugee, has spent months researching the article I wrote about refugees finding a new home after being violently expelled from the only ones they have ever known. Our bright Fulbright girls have managed to grab the coveted cover story spot with their creepy crawly look at the future of insect eating. A law student from Thammasat who interned with us recently has worked with me on a story calling for the abolition of capital punishment, and dear Aydan…dear recently married Aydan, has never worked so hard, as he braved his wife’s wrath interviewing a great number of ‘pretties’ and exploring the surreal world in which they operate.
I just realised that my editorial itself this month is as discombobulated as I feel.
I suppose that’s about right.
Aydan and I flanking the top three winners!