Media & Gender Report for 2014

Download the report about Cambodia.

Link to the reports of 7 countries such as Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Vanuatu: http://www.ifj.org/regions/asia-pacific/reports-handbooks/situationalreports3/

My contribution to the report appears like this: 

Kounila Keo is one of Cambodia’s best-known cloghers. Since starting her Blue Lady Blog in 2007xii, she has presented a TedTalks on blogging in Cambodia and been part of the team that organised Blogfest.Asia – a festival for bloggers in South East Asia in 2012. A journalist by training, Kounila has worked for AFP, Los Angeles Times, The Phnom Penh Post, Global Voices Online and The Independent UK.

Blogging in Cambodia emerged in the early 2000s and, to date, has been relatively “free” for reporting politics and other sensitive issues. A limited number of websites and blogs, such as Ki Media , have been shut down or posts removed due to negative comments on the government, but in terms of overall censorship, bloggers have experienced freedom in their ability to produce content. xiii

Kounila says that “blogging has opened the eyes of both young female and male Cambodians to more possibilities and a huge sum of knowledge.” She also says ‘cloghers’ are now a force to be reckoned with in Cambodia’s media scene and shaking up the traditional forms of journalism – as well as the cultural challenges.

For women in Cambodia there are quite a few impediments. She says journalism is not highly respected as a profession and, on top of that Cambodian society dictates that women should be softly spoken, walk lightly, be well-mannered and always in the home. For obvious reasons, these cultural norms are not exactly conducive to encouraging women to join the field of journalism.

“There might be a lot of challenges but one of them is to do with the perceptions that people hold,” Keo said. “First of all, journalism is considered a risky and low-paying job. While it is
extremely important, it also involves some risks especially in a country like Cambodia where the rule of law hasn’t been followed and respected to a great extent. There’s history of journalists being gunned down for the things they wrote.”

She has also noted a concerning trend that young female journalists tend to leave the profession after a couple of years, opting for better pay and security in the non-profit sector. She firmly believes clogging is one way for women journalists to have their voices heard, plus it takes away some of impediments that push them out of traditional journalism.

But, just like journalists, cloggers also receive negative feedback and threats. Most of the time, the attacks on Keo come from people who don’t see eye-to-eye with her on her opinions. Generally threats are made online or social media so she feels there is a relative level of safety. She has never been physically attacked or threatened in public, which she puts down to not putting her identity online too often.

As a platform, clogging and cloghers have the potential to make change, spark public discussion, empower and motivate the public and have their voices heard. Two-thirds of the Cambodian population today is aged under 25 and clogging is giving this young population power in terms of driving public discourse.

Keo says clogging gave her to the opportunity to share information with people and educate them to make their decisions. And as more women continue to join the ‘clogging-sphere’ they are driving women’s issues into discussion and giving other topics a female perspective that has thus far been missing.

She is certainly testament to the fact that the virtual space of clogging is empowering women in Cambodia’s male-dominated media landscape.

“Now more and more women are more open to discussing many issues including politics, social affairs, beyond the daily topics we see in the traditional media,” she said.

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