The media is too busy obsessing over making money than upholding journalistic principles, a discussion was told.
It used to be military dictators who interfered with the media but now it is big businesses, according to a discussion looking at the media's freedom 40 years after the Oct 14, 1973, student uprising.
The event yesterday was co-organised by the Thai Journalists Association (TJA), The National Press Council of Thailand, the Isra Institute and the 14 October Foundation.
Former TJA president Banyat Tassaneeyavej said that before the Oct 14 uprising, media freedom was muzzled by military dictatorship. News reports were often one-sided to serve those in power.
After the uprising, the media was free to dig up evidence of graft and the killings of people suspected of being communists, which the military regime was accused of committing.
Ms Banyat said a dark chapter for the media was in the aftermath of the Oct 6, 1976, crackdown on student protests. Newspapers were closed, and when they were reopened authorities imposed a condition that certain reporters could not be rehired.
She said the media is now divided. The days of dictatorships having a grip on the media are over but they now face interference by business groups.
The media has consented to serve the businesses. "I don't see a way out of this," she said.
However, she said the people's power was growing and situations in the country could reach a critical mass that prompts a radical change of the media.
Phongsak Payakawichian, chairman of the Isra Amantakul Foundation, said the media now enjoyed "too much freedom to write whatever they wanted".
"We come across too many 'columnist papers', not newspapers," he said.
Mana Trirayapiwat, deputy dean of the School of Communication Arts at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said marketing has tended to dictate the news agenda as many media enterprises struggle to stay afloat financially.