Media development in transitional democratic Cambodia

Quoted in a Master’s Degree thesis by Casey McCarthy (pdf file)

In addition, much of the Khmer press is criticised for its sensationalist approach to appeal to a wider audience. Journalist, DMC graduate and blogger, Kounila calls this trend ‘yellow journalism’. Kounila and other informants, criticise the publication of gruesome photos, images of alleged suspects and victims of crimes. Such unethical practices have been discussed in the past in the country, but ultimately the practice continues, with editors claiming it has a direct impact on their revenues. The solution several informants argue is a need not only to provide training to editors and journalists but that efforts are required to improve media literacy among the broader population.

While Samithy, CCJ, argues that foreign-owned media are putting pressure on local
Khmer-language press (who are far less financially sustainable and competitive), Vichea
of DMC suggests that at least in respect of journalism ethics, foreign media set a strong
example for local media.Other criticisms regarding media quality include the regular practice of simply reproducing press releases, a lack in niche and investigative reporting and a prioritisation of commercial interests over reporting of social issues. Furthermore, a lack of formal education, too few training opportunities and low salaries “discourage journalists from working harder” Kounila argued.

“More opportunities for formal training and continued professional development for working journalists are needed to promote balanced, fair and high-quality reporting. Writing without bias and sourcing properly, for example, are core elements of journalist trainings that we support. Responsible journalism with adherence to facts and the truth plays an important role in protecting
journalists” – Jamie, UNESCO.

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