Media growth prompts ethics call

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
DMC graduates participate in the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Media and Communication on Monday. DMC

An increase in the number of media outlets in the Kingdom is a testament to the degree of press freedoms granted to the media industry in the country, Ministry of Information spokesman Meas Sophorn said.

Sophorn made the remarks while attending the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Media and Communication (DMC) at the Royal University of Phnom Penh on September 20.

Cambodian officials said recently that there are more than 1,000 media outlets operating in the Kingdom between the traditional or legacy formats and digital providers.

He said news outlets must meet legal and professional conditions in order to operate and in Cambodia that means journalists have to practise their profession in a manner that is consistent with the Kingdom’s laws and ethical standards.

“Independent journalism can’t be defined as only covering negative news or pointing out the shortcomings of the government here or in any other country. That’s not right. It just isn’t.

“If you are an independent journalist, you have to cover all aspects of the story and be open to publishing information from any source if it is the truth. Journalists must gather information from all the available sources for their stories, no matter what kind of information that happens to be,” he said.

Sophorn said journalists in Cambodia have the right to publish information without being subjected to prior censorship. But he nevertheless urged all reporters to consider their stories carefully and think about whether they will spur any legal complaints or cause any other negative impacts while making sure that their stories had comments from all relevant sources.

“It is a misunderstanding by some who believe that in Cambodia a journalist can say anything. In every profession, the exercise of one’s rights is limited by the rights of other people,” he said.

Nop Vy, executive director of the Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJa), told The Post on September 21 that independence or non-independence in journalism is not a question of whether the coverage of the government is negative or positive but instead is determined by the freedom journalists have to report news without fear or favour.

“I think that attacking journalists for reporting news that is critical or for not covering more positive stories about the government is an attitude that can easily lead to interference with the work they are meant to be doing.

“We know that journalists must be free to report the news without threats or intimidation and they shouldn’t be led about by the nose by any individual or group.

“They should be completely free and independent in deciding which information is beneficial to society and which information is valuable for the public to know. That is real press freedom and it is the purpose of journalism,” he said.