Freedom of the Press?

Quickly becoming one of my favorite Cambodian pastimes are the rainy evenings I spend at Herb Cafe, laptop in tow, enjoying a cold beverage -- iced coffee, smoothie, Herb Smile... My Internet "at home" is down, so tonight I came over here (here is about 100 yards down the street and around the corner) to write.

Well, in old news, last week I started working for The Cambodian Weekly, an English-written weekly newspaper produced by the University of Cambodia. Right now, the paper is run by "professionals" in the field, but there are plans of hiring on student reporters. This transformation is still in the works and hush hush, so I suppose I shouldn't write about it now.

Anyway, besides the top secret transformation CW is apparently undergoing, I'm already seeing problems in the way the paper is run. First of all, the English is horrendous. My first assignment, a two-page article I was given to edit, took me two hours to finish, and still it could have used some work.

My biggest gripe with the publication, though, is the ownership. CW is owned and produced by the school, which, if you remember, is run by a member of the ministry. Thus, freedom of the press -- not quite a reality here in Cambodia. So I'm not sure how I feel about "being controlled by the man," but I guess I'll take it in stride and try to influence free speech as much as I am able (or am allowed). At the very worst, I'll learn a hard lesson that we in America can take for granted.

We'll see how much this becomes a concern after I see the edits from my first article. My assignment was to go to this forum about ICT (information and communications technology) development. I wasn't too excited about this because (a) I hate covering meetings, (b) I don't understand computer talk (c) I have trouble deciphering Khmer-lish.

Much to my surprise, the meeting was more than interesting. A majority of the talk centered around how to educate Cambodians with ICT skills and persuade members of the government as to why they need to invest in programs to develop the ICT system. Part of this included getting the private and public sectors to work together in education and development.

I say we'll see how much of this makes it into the paper because much of the article ended up with a somewhat critical focus on the government. I'm hoping it doesn't all get cut or given a positive spin, which the Cambodians dearly love to put on things.

I'll try to post the article once it's published. Then I can officially call myself and international reporter! :)


Michael and Yukiko Jones said...

Just wanted to say "Happy Birthday"! Good luck with becoming an official international reporter :)

Joy said...

Hi Rachael,

I have so enjoyed reading your blog -- I look forward to find out what tomorrows adventure will be. You get to learn and see so much.

The main reason that I am writing, though, is to send Happy Birthday wishes.

Love Aunt Joy (Uncle Jeff, Chelsea and Hayley).

Anonymous said...

I hope you had a wonderful birthday!!

Love you!
Mom and Dad

GLC said...

I didn't realize you just had your birthday...Happy Birthday!! I've really learned a lot from reading your blog, and have passed the link on to Rachel Rondy and Bethany George, both are very interested in reading it. You've already had some incredible experiences, and I'm sure there are more to come. I can't wait to read about them!
Take care,