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President of the Club of Cambodian Journalists Explains the Causes of Extraordinary Press Freedom in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, July 2, 2024 – Puy Kea, President of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, emphasized the collective responsibility of journalists to promote press freedom in Cambodia during a discussion at the Ministry of Information on July 2, 2024.

Mr. Puy Kea pointed out that the current state of press freedom is largely influenced by the level of knowledge and understanding among journalists regarding journalistic ethics and professionalism. He noted that many journalists, especially those new to online journalism, lack sufficient training in these areas.

Recalling the past, Mr. Puy Kea highlighted that veteran journalists have historically placed great importance on ethics and professional standards. He stressed the need for caution and thoroughness before publishing any content.

“For instance, we must avoid publishing identifiable information about children involved in stories of abuse, as it can have detrimental effects on their lives,” Mr. Puy Kea explained. “Ethical journalism prohibits revealing sensitive details such as the child's name, residence, or parents.”

He also emphasized the importance of respecting individuals' privacy unless they are public figures whose actions significantly impact society. Even then, coverage should be measured and balanced.

Mr. Puy Kea further noted that many journalists encounter problems because they rely on a single source without verifying information with other involved parties, leading to biased reporting. He advocated for comprehensive source gathering to maintain journalistic integrity.

Expressing his appreciation for the Ministry of Information's efforts to guide the press, Mr. Puy Kea acknowledged the common tension in democratic societies regarding government intervention in journalism. He underscored the need for respecting press freedom while also adhering to legal standards.

“The primary role of journalists is to strengthen their capacity,” he stated. “Associations and clubs are ready to support them, and the government should continue to enforce laws precisely.”

Mr. Puy Kea's remarks followed the Ministry of Information’s survey report released in April 2024, which revealed that 79.8% of 341 surveyed Cambodian journalists felt that press freedom in Cambodia had improved. However, 3.5% of respondents believed press freedom remained poor, and 16.7% did not comment.

Some press associations in the survey suggested that press freedom in Cambodia is still limited. Addressing these concerns, Mr. Puy Kea responded, “I have been working as a journalist for 30 years and have never faced any issues. I feel free to express myself and write in the media.”


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