Bangkok Post Group chairman Suthikiati Chirathivat insists that the media may change forms but its influence is never-ending
They say that print is dying but Suthikiati Chirathivat, chairman of the Bangkok Post Group, insists the media business’s potential will always be boundless.
“These days there are more ways to publish content such as online. And there will also be more innovative channels in the future. There will be no end to mass media’s influence. This is especially true today when the world is changing at a super-fast speed. In the face of these changes, the most important asset for anyone is information. And the media is the key to getting hold of it,’’ Mr Suthikiati said.
The Bangkok Post, first published on August 1, 1946, is celebrating its 72nd anniversary this year, making it the country’s oldest newspaper.
While keeping faith in the media’s shape-shifting survivability, Mr Suthikiati pointed out that traditional media should be admired for its “soul’’ and its charm for which there is no direct replacement.
“We may have Line or Facebook and browse for information on mobile phones but when it comes to news we still have to recheck. The digital world is unlike newspapers or magazines that present the news to us in a comprehensive package complete with photos and a well-thought-out design,’’ Mr Suthikiati said.
He insisted that while he is ready to roll along with the fast-changing media landscape and consumer behaviour, he will not stop publishing newspapers.
Born in 1942, four years before the first edition of the Bangkok Post was launched, Mr Suthikiati first got to know the paper when he returned home from his studies in England.
“That was 50 years ago,’’ he recalls. “My father and elder brother Khun Samrit assigned me to take care of marketing and public relations for Central Department Store and we had to buy advertising space in some leading newspapers, the Post included.’’
Since feedback from Bangkok Post ads was excellent, Central spent more and more on the paper’s services, to the point that the paper’s owners at that time invited Mr Suthikiati’s brother Samrit to buy the company’s shares.
Both Mr Samrit and Mr Suthikiati were offered seats as directors on the company’s board. Over the years, Mr Samrit acquired more shares in the company and was eventually appointed chairman of the board.
After Mr Samrit passed away, Mr Suthikiati was elected chairman, a position in which he has now served, continuously and proudly.
“The Bangkok Post isn’t just the country’s oldest newspaper, but also one of the most trusted by leaders and prominent people both in Thailand and overseas. Its news truly can be trusted,’’ he said.
Mr Suthikiati noted that the newspaper has been through several problems over its decades-long history. For him personally, one incident stands out. At one time, Chirathivat family members wanted to sell their Post shares because they were concerned about political ramifications that could stem from the paper’s news coverage. Mr Suthikiati, however, felt too emotionally tied to the company so he asked his sisters — Khunying Suchitra Mongkolkiti, Mookda Uahwatanasakul and Ratana Norpanlob — to keep the shares from falling into other people’s hands.
As the company marks its sixth-cycle milestone, Mr Suthikiati declares that he remains as committed as ever to his original dream of seeing the Bangkok Post Group continuously expanding and ultimately becoming the voice not just of Thailand but the region.
“We will continue to build on the strength of the Bangkok Post’s brand and keep developing. We won’t stop.”
“We have made sure that every single step we have taken in the name of the newspaper and the company is for the best so far, and will continue to do so.”