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Journalists focus on media power

Cambodia | Press Freedom

The Media Project impressed journalists from eight media organizations with its four-day seminar on International Journalism in Thailand in mid-December.

“I have learned something new from this seminar, especially power of the media,” said one of the seminar's 11 hand-picked participants Hang Chakra, a 2011 Hellman/Hammett Awardee from Human Rights Watch for his courage and struggle in covering sensitive news in Cambodia.

Chakra joined participants from a variety of media formats with different editorial positions, including pro-government media, opposition and independent media.

“It is unfortunate that in my country, Cambodia, the media do not have power like media in Western countries,” added Hang Chakra.

Thailand“However, from this seminar, we learned how to use our power. I have become aware that journalists should seek the truth and cover it as fully as possible in a fair and balanced way, as well as how to cover sensitive stories without restriction from the government,” said Hang Chakra.

Chakra who runs an independent newspaper, Khmer Mchas Srok News, intends to use journalism skills obtained from the seminar to educate his staff and other Cambodian journalist friends so they can improve their work.

The seminar held in Thailand, on 11- 14 December, 2011, brought several critical topics before the participants, such as the role of journalists in a democratic society, the power of the media, principles of journalism, news and news values, how to weave a story together, interviewing techniques, localizing the story, and journalistic ethics versus nationalism, according to Dr. Arne Fjeldstad, one of the trainers and CEO of the Media Project.

Huot Songhak from the Koh Santepheap, one of the leading newspapers in Cambodia, described this seminar as a motive for his work.

“I got some techniques to cover sensitive issues and ways to motivate my boss to get my stories published even though they are sensitive,” said Huot Songhak, adding that, “This seminar inspires me to find the truth both aggressively and ethically.”

Eath Daravuth, senior news editor of Radio Voice for Democracy, echoed Huot Songhak and Hang Chakra, but he was hooked on the issue of the power of the media and journalistic professionalism.

“The seminar is valuable for Cambodian journalists, and I would like to say thanks to the seminar organizers who have brought the issue of ethics vs. nationalism to our participants,” said Eath Daravuth.

“I agree with Dr. Arne that journalists should work independently and professionally rather than being based on nationalism. I have observed that [nationalistic journalism] will bring nothing to the nation and society, but it creates racism and fuels conflicts,” stressed Eath Daravuth.

"All these valuable skills will help me and my staff improve our news production for FPM online and Radio VOKF when we come back to work," added Sek Rady.

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