Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cambodian Journalists Build Capacity in Professionalism and Ethnics


About 100 journalists from different newspaper organizations, magazines, and radio and television stations have attended the National Conference on Cambodian Media under the theme “Promotion of Professionalism and Ethnics” on June 17 in Phnom Penh. The training was conducted by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) and the Press Council of Cambodia (PCC) and was funded by the European Community (EU).

Thach Phen, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Information, said that the conference was in accordance with the demands for freedom of expression and of the press. These ideals are under constant challenge in any nation and Cambodia is no exception. Therefore, they need to be monitored, as does the implementation of Press Laws and Ethnics.

The Secretary of State said that the main challenge for journalists was cooperating to ensure the “Promotion of Professionalism and Ethnics”. This will be advanced through the understanding of the “Rights and Responsibilities of Journalists”. They will then be in a position to help the Royal Government of Cambodia promote good governance, democracy and the Rule of Law.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia recognizes the important role of newspapers, the radio and television – all of them tools in providing accurate and professional information. They have a positive role to play in every social activity and towards the development of Cambodia,” he said during his opening speech.

He said the Cambodian government recognizes all achievements in all sectors, especially those encouraging democracy, freedom and sincerity. He said these qualities should always guide the progress of the media sector.

He added that to promote the media in Cambodia, the government would respect the role it has to play and continue to encourage harder work from the sector.

Om Chandara, President of the Press Council of Cambodia, said that the nation’s media was entirely free. However, he referred to allegations of threats to some journalists attempting to write stories about high-ranking officials and social stability. Nevertheless, the cause of freedom of the media remained broad when compared to the media in other countries in the region.

Recently, 8 local journalists were charged with spreading misinformation, defamation and stirring up trouble, according to the Ministry of Information.

To improve media objectivity, the president called on all reporters to follow the Press Laws and Code of Ethnics to ensure the spread of accurate information.

He also appealed to the Government to cease detaining journalists unless there was clear evidence of libel, disinformation or a threat to security.

Teruo Jinnai, UNESCO Representative in Cambodia, said that recent years have seen continued progress in media freedoms, but there was still work to be done with respect for ethics and the law. He said that some journalists had never been taught the code and that occasionally, there was disparity between the theory taught in media classes and the reality on the street.

“All journalists should receive training in ethnics. We must also undertake the task of ensuring the security of the journalist, encouraging the flow of information, and upholding a media sector that will serve as a platform for dialogue, conducted in the spirit of equity, understanding and reconciliation. This all will all tend towards the welfare of society,” he said.

He concluded that Cambodia could rely on UNESCO to work hard in support of these ideals.

Kheng Sophall, Editor-in-Chief of the Khmer Apsara Magazine said that he was happy to attend the training.

“This is the first time for me to attend a workshop on journalistic ethics. Although it lasted only half a day, I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. To avoid problems in future, will follow the Press Laws and Code of Ethics,” he told the Southeast Asia Weekly.

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